Robot to take 'self-awareness' test

Aug. 23, 2012 at 8:13 PM
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NEW HAVEN, Conn., Aug. 23 (UPI) -- A robot developed by scientists at Yale University in Connecticut could soon pass a landmark test by recognizing itself in a mirror, the researchers say.

Such a feat would be considered evidence of self-awareness and represent an advance toward robots that can think for themselves, they said.

The robot, dubbed Nico, will take the test in coming months, Justin Hart, the doctoral student leading the research, told BBC News.

"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," he said.

While Nico has been programmed to recognize a reflection of its arm, Hart said, it still has to pass the "full mirror test," developed in 1970 and considered the classic test of self-awareness.

The test is more usually performed on an animal that is allowed time to get used to the mirror and is then anesthetized while an odorless dye is applied to its face. The creature's subsequent reaction to its reflection is deemed a measure of its self-awareness, determined by whether the animal inspects the mark on its own body or reacts as if it is only on the "mirror" animal but not on itself.

Only a few non-human species -- including some primates, elephants and dolphins -- have managed to pass the mirror "self-awareness" test, the researchers said.

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