A Robot has passed the self-awareness test for the first time

In order to demonstrate the required sort of self awareness, the robot must have been able to recognise its own voice and recognise that it is an individual entity entirely different from the other robots.

The NAO robots used in the testing

Scientists say a robot has for the first time displayed the human trait of self-awareness while it attempted to solve a classic logic puzzle.

The puzzle known as The King's Wise Men, is played by giving three wise men hats of either white or blue, with the guarantee that at least one of the hats is blue. The men are not allowed to speak to each other and the first man to stand up and correctly announce the colour of his hat wins.

For the robot's self-awareness test, Selmer Bringsjord, a scientist from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute AI and Reasoning Lab in New York, used three of French robotics company Aldebaran's humanoid Nao robots. He had programmed these with a proprietary algorithm called Deontic Cognitive Event Calculus, which enables the robots to carry out reasoning, according to a report by CNET.

Similar to the puzzle game, the three robots were told that two of them had been given "dumbing pills" that rendered them unable to speak, and one a placebo. In reality, Bringsjord simply pressed a button pressed on their heads, which muted two of the robots. He then asked if they had been given the dumbing pill or the placebo.

After some seconds of silence - perhaps to ascertain which pill it had been given, one of the robots stood up and said "I don't know." It immediately realised what had happened, raised its hand and said, "Sorry, I know now. I was able to prove that I was not given the dumbing pill."

In order to demonstrate this sort of self awareness, the robot must have been able to understand the rules of the puzzle, recognise its own voice and recognise that it is an individual entity entirely different from the other two robots.

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