This Robot Proved That It Was Self-Aware

Are you good at logic puzzles? You'd better hope so. Scientists believe that the ability to solve certain logic puzzles is proof of self awareness—that is, it separates man from machine. However, a 2015 experiment showed that the line between the two may be blurrier than we thought.

Related: Can You Solve The Lying Lion And Unicorn Logic Puzzle?

Three Wise Robots

In July of 2015, Professor Selmer Bringsjord presented robots with a classic logic puzzle known as the "wise men riddle." It goes like this:

Three wise men are taken to the king and made to wear hats that they can't see. The king tells them that the first person to say the color of his hat wins. He also tells them that the contest is fair, and that their hats are either blue or white. The solution, deduced by the winner, is that a fair contest would only include hats of the same color, and therefore his hat is the same color as his comrades' hats.

Related: Robots Are Getting Closer To Mastering Poker

The version of this riddle presented to the robots was different. Scientists programmed three robots to believe that two of them were no longer able to speak. They then asked the robots who could still speak. That robot spoke up to say, "I don't know," but then changed its answer once it heard its own voice.

Related: Trust of Robots is All in the Face

Is This Proof?

In order to prove that the robot was showing self awareness, the robot needed to have known the rules, recognized its own voice, and realized that it was a separate entity from the other two robots. As Digital Trends reports, "If nothing else, researchers say, this self-correction was a display of a 'mathematically verifiable awareness of the self,' something that has previously remained unproven."

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. In July 2015, a humanoid robot in New York solved a classic puzzle that demonstrates self-awareness. 01:10

  2. See a robot that can "converse" with a person and store data about them: 07:54

  3. Some scientists argue that robots can never have phenomenological consciousness, defined as the firsthand experience of conscious thought. 10:12

What if Machines Become Conscious?

Written by Curiosity Staff April 18, 2017

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