The significance of the experiment is that it shows that robots can be developed to have some human qualities such as self awareness and deduction.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor Selmer Bringsjord has conducted a self-awareness experiment with a commercially-available Nao robot that he says proves that the robot has the faintest glimmer of self-awareness.
In a logic puzzle called “The King’s Wise Men”, a king must choose one of three people to be his new advisor. Each hat was either white or blue. The king declared that whichever man stood up first and announced the color of his own hat would become his new advisor.’. 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. Human-replacing robots have existed in factories and manufacturing processes for years, but the dream has long been to create a humanoid robot that is “intelligent” enough to act like a human.
In response to this question, the one robot with the ability to respond rose to its feet and said, “I don’t know”.
Two of the robots were programmed to be unable to talk, the third was not. If the robot is able to speak, that means there’s no way it could have actually been given the pill. However, upon hearing its own voice, it retracts its original answer, saying: “Sorry, I know now”.
Anyway, hopefully the robot council that takes over in 2020 is able to look past the whole “dumbing pill” thing and treat us well as subjects.
However, as the robots presumably are coded the same, it could be said that all three have the capacity to pass the test.
The full results of the research are due to be presented at the at RO-MAN robotic conference in Japan from August 31 to September 4.