Robot Takes a Step Towards Self-AwarenessCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 28, 2012 10:50AM
Most people would say it is annoying or amusing when a pet reacts to its reflection, as though it were another cat, dog, etc. This is actually an example of an old self-awareness test called the mirror test. The purpose is to see if something can recognize a reflection of itself, and there are very few animals that can. Robots also fail the test and are even unable to identify a body part as their own, though they can identify what it is. Except for Nico that is, the first robot that can not only identify itself in a mirror but determine where an arm is, based on a reflection.
To achieve this, Nico had to learn a model of itself, so it can recognize movements in a mirror as its movements. Currently that is the best it can do, but the researchers' next step is to teach it what its head and torso look like, so it can identify more than just its arm. Ultimately this will allow it to pass the full mirror test, which involves identifying a mark on one's body, which is a step farther than just recognizing oneself in the mirror.
Several jokes can be made about robots becoming self-aware, but this is actually a necessity if we are ever going to interact with robots safely. Without self-awareness a robot could misidentify part of itself, which could lead to it hurting a human, or, less dangerously, cause it to struggle with social interactions.