Researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have introduce a self-aware robot who's almost too cute for words.
We've been talking quite a bit about sentient robots lately, and the general consensus seems to be there's still a while to go before we have advanced AI seen in the movies. But if a recent breakthrough from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's AI and Reasoning Lab is anything to go on, maybe we're moving faster than we thought. Researchers adapted the classic "King's Wise Men" puzzle into a version robots could understand, but only pass by expressing self-awareness. As it turns out, a robot has passed this test for the first time - and adorably so, I might add.
The original test required putting white or blue hats on three wise men, but at least one hat must be blue. Without speaking to each other, the first wise man to stand up and correctly state their hat's color would win the test. In the robotic version, three small robots are programmed with the Deontic Cognitive Event Calculus, which allows them to process reasoning. They are told two of them were given "dumbing pills" which prevent them from speaking (really just pressing a button on their heads) while the third was given a placebo. They are then asked to state who received the dumbing pill and who got the placebo.
The attached video shows the results - one robot slowly rises to his feet and says "I don't know". Realizing what's happened, the robot follows up with "Sorry, I know now. I was able to prove that I was not given the dumbing pill".
To be clear, what we're seeing isn't sentience, but if they're programmed as advertised it's still impressive. These results not only require the robot to understand the puzzle's rules, but also its own voice as distinct from the other two robots. Those are crucial ingredients for self-awareness, which lets you recognize yourself as an individual unit, and apparently harder to code than you'd think.
The Rensselaer Institute's Selmer Bringsjord will present this research at RO-MAN 2015, an IEEE symposium on robot and human interactive communication.