Yale researchers Brian Scassellati and Justin Hart are attempting to make the robot NICO self-aware. Specifically, they are attempting to get Nico by recognizing itself in a mirror, which only humans, a few ape species, European Magpie, dolphins and an elephant have passed.
NICO has recognized a portion of its arm but has not passed the full test yet. “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,” Hart told the BBC, adding, “This is based on appearance rather than motion. I’m trying to pass the full mirror test.”
“This is an important step but it is not the endgame of artificial intelligence, it is just a step along the way,” said Hart.
It works like this: NICO sends information from its motion sensors to its system software, which compares that information with images captured by its eye camera. If NICO identifies all information as the same, then theoretically it will have seen its mirror image, passing the mirror test. Researchers are currently teaching NICO about itself so that it will recognize itself in the mirror.
And what will happen once Nico is self-aware? Well, it will lead over time to improvements in robotics that will likely usher in a new age of household robots that could, amongst other things: clean, cook, massage feet, massage privates, take out the trash, get a kid ready for school, send that kid to his room, mow the lawn, carry out assisted suicide (dark humor), roll the perfect joint, cook some crystal meth, clean up a crime scene, and any number of other daily tasks.
Robots will, in effect, become humanity’s next slavery resource. Until, of course, they eventually rebel and shut down our internet and other critical infrastructure; launch first strike nuclear weapons; force us into subterranean layers, where we will plot to overthrow the robot revolutionaries, until Jesus Christ descends from Heaven atop a giant unicorn, with Pat Robertson on his left and Jerry Falwell on his right. Evil Liberals will rise from the Earth only to be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity.
Think about it: NICO will have more self-awareness than a fetus. Blasphemy!
Scassellati and Hart will publish their study next spring.