A robot passed a simple test where it understood it’s place in it surroundings. HNGN reports the following:
Researchers told three robots that two of them had been given a “dumbing pill” that stops them from talking, but what really stopped them from talking was a button pushed by the researchers, explains New Scientist.
None of the robots knew which one was still able to speak, and when asked which one had the ability to speak, the robots all attempted to say “I don’t know.”
When only one of the robots actually made a noise, it recognized its voice and understood that it wasn’t silenced.
“Sorry, I know now!” the robot said. “I was able to prove that I was not given a dumbing pill.”
The robot then wrote a formal mathematical proof and saved it to its memory to prove that it comprehended what had happened.
As Tech Radar points out, all three off-the-shelf Nao robots were presumably coded the same, and therefore all had the capacity to pass the test.
While it may not seem like groundbreaking research into the ever-elusive subject of consciousness, one has to consider what it took for a robot to tackle logical puzzles requiring an element of self-awareness.
The bot first had to listen and understand the question “which pill did you receive?”, as being asked by a human. Then it had to hear its own voice saying “I don’t know,” and realize that it was hearing its own voice as being distinct from another robot. It then had to connect its ability to talk to conclude that it did not receive a silencing pill.
Sure it’s a simple test but damn if it isn’t kind of creepy. To give you an understanding as to how creepy this actually is, there’s a video of the test with the three Nao robots below.
I, for one, welcome our robotic overloards.