The Rise of the Machines? Robot Aces Self-Awareness Experiment!

As Terminator Genesis hits the theater, exploring once again the idea of machines gaining dominance over man kind, scientists are trying to figure out whether robots can think out of the box. An experiment led by Selmer Bringsjord, professor of computer science and cognitive science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has discovered self-awareness in robots. The experiment was prompted after an open challenge was issued by Luciano Floridi, a renowned professor of philosophy at the University of Oxford.

According to Dr. Bringsjord, “Floridi’s challenge, which we refer to as ‘KG4,’ requires that a robot have a form of genuine self-understanding … a human-level justification/proof to accompany the behavior, in which the robot employ a correlated to the personal pronoun ‘I’”. He added that the inputs come in natural language, immediately. If anyone has trouble understanding the concept, the movie ‘I. Robot’ helps put some things into perspective.

Selmer Bringsjord used three programmable NAO Robots. The crux of the challenge is that the robot should be able to understand that it has an identity.

In the experiment, all three robots were having the ability to speak, however two were kept silent through programming. As per reports, the researchers told them that two of them had got a “dumbing pill” causing them to become silent, and then asked all of them to find out which of them was able to speak. One robot replied it did not know, however after hearing its own voice, it changed its statement and said that it was given a dumbing pill.

Bringsjord says that this type of cognitive programming, called psychometric AI, has huge implications for growth in learning about ourselves and how helpful robots might be in the future.

Knowing the outcome of what a scientist or engineer is trying to do ensures that learning and evolving AI stays within the control of humans, not the machines. “The human race should not be building sophisticated robots without exquisite attention to detail in formal logics,” says Bringsjord. “We are sliding as a culture and country toward AIs that learn in mysterious fashion and end up as essentially black boxes. You don’t want a black-box robot driving a car, or flying itself around, etc.”

While Elon Musk is taking steps to make sure artificial intelligence does not overwhelm and surpass us – by donating 7 million into research to prevent such a scary scenario – on the other side, artificial intelligence is slowly but surely becoming integrated in our lives. So much so in fact, that experts predict one third of the workforce will be replaced by robots by 2030. Scary as it may sound, the machines are on the rise indeed.



  1. Neil Farbstein says

    it shows the robot can repeat a phrase inputted into it “dumbing pill.” They are relying on the grant reviewers to turn their minds off with drugs to get funded.

    Maybe someday robots will be genuinely intelligent and they will sedate the human population with drugs to control them.

  2. George Kakaris says

    I would doubt this is true/actual intelligence.. i think the robot responded to some data that was previously sent to it.. a mechanical reaction to hearing its voice.. i think this is not actual self awareness, but a mechanical response.. the art of self awareness is a quite different thing.. isn’t it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *