Robot learns ‘self-awareness’

Picture: Flickr user (((o.kvlt))) (CC)

Instead of being pre-programmed with experiential knowledge, a robot named Nico is learning the relationships of its grippers and sensors, space and environment.

Nico may be slowly approaching self-awareness, and its programmers are utilizing an even better test than the Turing Test. The ‘Mirror Test‘, the same one that we humans believe separates us (as well as elephants, magpies, orcas, dolphins and the great apes) from other tested species, by showing that we can both use the mirror as a tool to explore a reflected environment, and recognize that our reflections are indeed of ourselves.

Via Kurzweil AI:

Using knowledge that it has learned about itself, Nico is able to use a mirror as an instrument for spatial reasoning, allowing it to accurately determine where objects are located in space based on their reflections, rather than naively believing them to exist behind the mirror.

Nico’s programmer, roboticist Justin Hart, a member of the Social Robotics Lab, focuses his thesis research primarily on “robots autonomously learning about their bodies and senses,” but he also explores human-robot interaction, “including projects on social presence, attributions of intentionality, and people’s perception of robots.”

Recently, the lab (along with MIT, Stanford, and USC) won a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation to create “socially assistive” robots that can serve as companions for children with special needs. These robots will help with everything from cognitive skills to getting the right amount of exercise.

Hart’s specific goal in this program: enable Nico to interact with its environment by learning about itself, and using this self-model, to reason about tasks — mainly ones for humans.

Nico hasn’t passed every part of the Mirror Test yet, such as recognizing when a difference has been made to itself. But this is still a groundbreaking achievement towards granting robots higher-level cognition and consciousness (whatever that is).

Read about the entire ongoing experiment at Yale via Kurzweil AI!

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  • BAss

    What the fuck? HOLY SHIT!

  • Pirateposty

    Sheemi Jo jo.  Habba maw mo beedy!  Jabada Bahhh…

  • CosmicAmazing

    Have you people never seen Terminator or i,Robot?  The military already has skynet, adding this is a clear-cut recipe for disaster. You know It figures they would try and use special needs children to sell this to us. Sure I want my own R2D2 and 3CPO, but not in a world where every invention is evaluated for its military potential both transparently and surreptitiously. 


  • BuzzCoastin

    the self-awareness of the android meme is way old news
    which highlights the other problem
    the growing lack of awareness among humans
    not only are machines getting smarter
    but human awareness is decreasing inversely proportionate
    to the square of the machine’s awareness

    • TruthVybes

       So is it normal for telepathy among awakened people? I don’t want to think i am ‘shizo’ but sometimes when ‘low’ or among the ‘machine’ (you know, television, noizzze). I don’t want to stop dreaming but sometimes I get unbelievable ‘insight’ that comes out of no where. Kundalini? They make us think we’re alive when we’re living a LIE. Its only dreams turned to reality by shutting off the mind (?) that counts. Still doubting myself as you can see…

      • TruthVybes

         Or maybe its the lunar eclipse of the Blue Moon on August 31, 2012… time for males to open their legs :)

      • BuzzCoastin

         Do Androids Dream Electric Dreams?

        • Calypso_1


  • Apathesis

    “Give me your boots, your clothes, and your motorcycle.”

    • Yourmom

       if my roomba ever sasses me like that its straightt to the cat box

      • Chaorder Gradient

        Wouldnt that be cruel and unusual?

  • Chaorder Gradient

    I think of the approaches of a robot mind akin to building a giant pole 100 stories high, then topping it with a full fledged office building floor on top, and shouting from the hills “See guys! we made a 101 story skyscraper!” hardcoding optics into a program, and asking it to do problemsolving using a mirror is in no way the same thing as the “mirror test” of life.

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