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Teaching Robots to Deceive

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 01:03PM

Among the short stories within I, Robot by Isaac Asimov is Little Lost Robot. In this story, a robot lies to the humans in order to protect itself from destruction, and even goes so far as to teach other robots so it can more easily blend in and deceive the humans. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are now teaching robots similar deception tactics, to protect them and other resources from destruction.

Both methods of deception being taught are based on animal behaviors; specifically squirrels and a species of bird. The bird, when encountering a predator, will seek out another group of birds and pretend to be a part of it, while taunting the predator. Due to the large group, the predator will decide not to attack and leave. When modeled, the researchers found this to be the best strategy the group is large enough to cause the predator to leave. A squirrel however deceives other squirrels in a different manner to protect its cache of nuts. Normally it will patrol these caches, but when there is another squirrel which may steal the nuts, it will move to other areas without any hidden nuts, to pull the other squirrel away from the nuts.

These behaviors are likely going to be of the most benefit to military operations as a means to protect valuable assets. However, as the researchers will immediately point out, the idea of teaching robots to deceive humans prompts many ethical questions, and hopefully there will be further discussion to decide how such teaching may be applied.

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