Well this is kind of scary isn't it. For the first time, a robot in New York has demonstrated what can only be described as self-awareness.
New Scientist reports that the Roboticists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute built three robots and made them take a test known simply as 'the three wise men'.
The puzzle reads as follows:
"The King called the three wisest men in the country to his court to decide who would become his new advisor. He placed a hat on each of their heads, such that each wise man could see all of the other hats, but none of them could see their own. Each hat was either white or blue. The king gave his word to the wise men that at least one of them was wearing a blue hat - in other words, there could be one, two, or three blue hats, but not zero. The king also announced that the contest would be fair to all three men. The wise men were also forbidden to speak to each other. The king declared that whichever man stood up first and announced the color of his own hat would become his new advisor. The wise men sat for a very long time before one stood up and correctly announced the answer. What did he say, and how did he work it out?"
In this instance the roboticists built the three robots and made sure that two of them couldn't speak, they then asked all three robots which could speak.
All three tried to say 'I don't know' however only was able to say it, upon hearing its own voice the robot paused and then said: "Sorry, I know now!"
If that isn't creepy enough then take into account that all three robots were programmed exactly the same.
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As a task it might not sound that complex, but for a robot it's pretty much a mountainous decision to make - to hear one's own voice and then make a meaningful change to the response based on that self-awareness.
Selmer Bringsjord and his team will present their findings at the RO-MAN conference in Japan next month where we're sure they'll also unveil a new computer program called 'Skynet'. Ok that last bit isn't true.