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Robot Learning To Recognize Itself In Mirror 133

First time accepted submitter Thorodin writes in with a story at the BBC about scientists at Yale who have built a robot that they hope will be able to recognize itself in a mirror. "A robot named Nico could soon pass a landmark test - recognizing itself in a mirror. Such self-awareness would represent a step towards the ultimate goal of thinking robots. Nico, developed by computer scientists at Yale University, will take the test in the coming months. The ultimate aim is for Nico to use a mirror to interpret objects around it, in the same way as humans use a rear-view mirror to look for cars. 'It is a spatial reasoning task for the robot to understand that its arm is on it not on the other side of the mirror,' Justin Hart, the PhD student leading the research told BBC News. So far the robot has been programmed to recognize a reflection of its arm, but ultimately Mr Hart wants it to pass the "full mirror test". The so-called mirror test was originally developed in 1970 and has become the classic test of self-awareness."
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Robot Learning To Recognize Itself In Mirror

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  • Laugh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by koan ( 80826 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:16PM (#41103853)

    It isn't "self awareness" there is no true AI.

  • Re:Laugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal ( 711123 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:24PM (#41103921)
    Actually, it's more about recognising the auto-motion structure in the scene. I'm familiar with Justin's work (Go Team Scazlab!) and it's a lot deeper and more interesting than the article gives it credit for.

    AI claims from the 70s ruined a generation of people for machine intelligence (which is why we now have to sell it as 'machine intelligence' or 'machine learning'). Knowing what part of the camera scene is moving because something is happening, and knowing what part of the scene is moving because you're waving your end-effector is useful. If you can extract your own state from indicators in the environment, then you have more information to work with - that's why we use a mirror to do our hair and straighten our ties.

    Well... those of us that wear ties...
  • Re:Laugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:25PM (#41103947)

    What makes you think your DNA wasn't a complex self-executing program?
    Hint, it is.

    And it has had millions of generations of evolution behind it that has resulted in useful "code" being the baseline of what makes it a human, makes it breathe, speak and type silly things on Slashdot.

  • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @10:07PM (#41104653) Journal

    "a step towards the ultimate goal of thinking robots"

    **sigh** I thought we were past this stuff, even in mainstream media...."Thinking robots" is not a coherent concept or benchmark that can be accomplished.

    "thinking robots"....most people mean 'artificial intelligence' when they use these words, but the idea of AI as independent thought is irrational. It is all programmed responses at some level. Even machines that are programed to process new data into existing algorythms for feedback processing are **still** doing that 'learning' according to a human-programed way of processing and integrating data...its all just machines executing complex instructions at the core!

    Commander Data...some people contextualize "thinking robots" as a technical level at which a machine is so like beings with Sapience that it is immoral to deny them the rights of a humanoid. This is science fiction. It is helpful, but it is a scenario based in a world with several assumptions. Its not fit to apply to computing directly. We do not know how the human mind ultimately works...unless we have that, then there is nothing to accurately compare a non-human brain to consistently.

    Ultimately, if neuroscience and AI converge, meaning we can map every thought in the human brain **AND** have the technical ability to construct an artificial system that enables what we know as 'free will' and 'thought' and 'choice' and especially 'self awareness'....THEN and ONLY THEN have we made something...

    And what have we thus made? IMHO, its a **new** third thing. Not human, but at least equal to human and bound within the same social contract all humans are bound to.

  • Re:Laugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @10:36PM (#41104807)

    I find the term A.I. to be racist, and indicative of the chauvinistic attitude some humans have about their own mental prowess -- Your brains are not special. Any sufficiently complex interaction is indistinguishable from sentience, because that IS what sentience is. Once cybernetic systems attain (and surpass) the level of complexity present in humans brains, Artificial Intelligence will be a derogatory term: "Oh you pass yourself off as being smart, but you're just Artificially Intelligent -- You don't actually understand anything!"

    First of all, thats a pretty horrible misuse of the term "racist", and second, the term "artificial" means, by definition, created through art (art here being the broad sense as any product of human activity, rather than the fine arts): i.e. created by human intention and design. By definition "Machine Intelligence" is "Artificial Intelligence", at least so far as we have created it. That intelligence is designed and a product of human work. It's intended, and is brought about not because of some emergent behavior found naturally in existence, but because humans arranged it that way and brought it about. That's not in any way racist, it's just the meaning of the words.

    It would be completely irrational and contradictory to the very meaning of the term to call humans "artificial life", since we were not created by human art. You'd destroy the meaning of the words to call humans "artificial", just as we wouldn't call the sun "artificial" even if you said it was created by a god, since that's not what the word means. Long story short, you are trying to destroy the meaning of words. Don't do that: it's bad for everyone.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?