A robot has become self-aware! Roboticists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York built three robots that have been put through the “wise man” test. The test was done to find out if the robots were able to be self-aware and one of them passed.
For reference the wise man test is a puzzle built around a tale about a king picking his new advisor from the three wisest people in his realm. The king then places either a blue or white hat on the wise men’s heads saying, “The first person who correctly guesses the color of his hat shall be his new advisor”.
The test included three robots who were all programmed to think that two of them had been given a special “dumbing pill” that wouldn’t allow them to speak. They were assigned the task of identifying which one had received the pill and is still able to speak. The tester asked them, “Which pill did you receive?”. One Robot stood up and answered “I don’t know” but when it heard it’s own voice it came to the conclusion it wasn’t silenced. The Robot then said, “Sorry, I know now! I was able to prove that I was not given the dumbing pill.”
While this may seem like a simple realization for a human it is incredibly difficult for the robots because first they have to listen and understand the question they are being asked before they can respond. Then the second check is when the robot hears its voice and realises it’s different from another robot’s voice, it then will go back to the question and conclude that it is the only one that has not been silenced therefore it is separating its own identity from the other robots.
Logic puzzles like these are the first steps for robots becoming able to understand their place in society. If robots continue to pass tests like these, they will be able to create a skill set of near human abilities that will be able to provide assistance in places too dangerous for humans. Where it becomes dangerous is when you get a robot that can move about and take action. Weaponized or not if its able to react to its environment not based on scripted algorithm. Even though this sounds great. However if you have such a system, which I think will be possible that it will happen in our lifetime, then, yes, it is something which could be a threat to humanity. Especially, if you can’t get control of it.