Like a great sci-fi story Comms Express was intrigued to hear that robots have begun to show signs of self-awareness.
So does this mean we were looking at some form of dystopian future whereby robots take over the world?
Now don’t panic, it would appear we are a long way off robots thinking like a human. However reports this week would appear to show that one stage in that building block has been achieved.
Three French humanoid Nao robots were programmed by Selmer Bringsjord, chair of the department of cognitive science at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, to carry out reasoning and the results were nothing short of staggering.
The three robots were told that two of them had been given "dumbing pills" that rendered them unable to speak, and one a placebo – the placebo was actually a button but the upshot was the same. They were then asked if they had been given the dumbing pill or the placebo.
In the video below, which was posted earlier this month, you can see the results. There are several long moments of silence before one robot stands up and says "I don't know."
It then raises its hand like a child in a schoolroom, and offers a correction: "Sorry, I know now. I was able to prove that I was not given the dumbing pill."
As we said simply staggering!
This has given rise for many in the legal profession to call for the laws that govern robotics to be updated in case robots ‘wake up’ and demand rights.
Okay, perhaps it does sound a little a dystopian future with robots taking over the world.
You may recall we reported prominent figures including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk warned about the potential danger of artificial intelligence to humans. In January both signed an open letter to AI researchers warning of the dangers of artificial intelligence.
Legal expert [Ryan] Calo [of the U. of Washington School of Law] outlines a terrifying thought experiment detailing how our laws might need an update to deal with the challenges posed by robots demanding the right to vote.
‘Imagine that an artificial intelligence announces it has achieved self-awareness, a claim no one seems able to discredit,’ Calo wrote.
‘Say the intelligence has also read Skinner v. Oklahoma, a Supreme Court case that characterizes the right to procreate as “one of the basic civil rights of man.”
‘The machine claims the right to make copies of itself (the only way it knows to replicate). These copies believe they should count for purposes of representation in Congress and, eventually, they demand a pathway to suffrage.
‘Of course, conferring such rights to beings capable of indefinitely self-copying would overwhelm our system of governance.’
So does the video prove that robots are actually self-aware or that they passed a self-awareness test? Mmmm … we’re not sure but we are going to watch Terminator in a whole new light!
Until next time