You weren't born knowing how your limbs work. You flailed and grasped your toes and stuck your fingers in your mouth, gradually learning how your body parts worked and what they could do. Robots don't get such a luxury — they're programmed at the outset to perform their tasks, either with or without awareness of their internal body plan. That's a shortcoming that keeps them from being able to perform some tasks that human babies take for granted (a problem that's so common in AI that there's a name for it). But late last month, robots took a big step toward this kind of self-awareness: Columbia engineers created a robot that could figure out what it looked like without any external input. In essence, it could imagine itself.
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Written by Ashley Hamer February 18, 2019
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