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!


It was a typical day in junior physics class at Point Cordial High when things took a turn... to the atypical! Mild-mannered Breshvic's seething distaste of physics broke through its last tensile straw as the very fabric of spacetime holding him in place tore like the flimsy wet blouse of an amateur porn artist! Young Breshvic found himself disembodied, floating wildly in a place with no shape or form, but more directions than previously revealed to him, and not easily explained in this format! Had he gone to that ethereal void of wraiths and gods? Had he crossed over to the land of dead? HAD HE GONE UTTERLY MAD? Had he simply fallen asleep during another lecture? NO! It was in this astral plane between reality and dream, nexus of dimension, the OMNIVERSE, that he first learned to use his powers, clawing madly to survive against nightmarish demons and malevolent cosmic shadows!

12 Comments on "Robot learns ‘self-awareness’"

  1. What the fuck? HOLY SHIT!

  2. Pirateposty | Aug 28, 2012 at 7:51 pm |

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

  3. CosmicAmazing | Aug 28, 2012 at 9:04 pm |

    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. 


  4. 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 | Aug 29, 2012 at 3:54 am |

       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…

  5. Apathesis | Aug 29, 2012 at 6:39 am |

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

  6. 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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