Responsible Intelligent Systems


Did three Nao robots pass a test for artificial consciousness?

Several news items the last few days claimed that a group of three Nao robots showed a certain degree of self-consciousness. This is a gross exaggeration. It is demonstrated that the bots reason correctly in a wise man / muddy children scenario. For that they only need to apply some well known simple logical reasoning patterns and need to exhibited a rudimentary form of self-observation (they need to remember what they said before). Now, indeed, we can probably say that self-observation is a necessary condition for self-consciousness. But from that we cannot conclude that what these bots do, shows that they are self-conscious (even if it would be only in a limited way). First of all, the self-observation needed to solve the puzzle (remembering what you said before) is not the kind that seems very relevant for self-consciousness. Second, even if the Nao’s would be equipped with more advanced forms of self-observation (e.g., observations of their own reasoning patterns, forms of meta-evaluation) only a possible necessary condition for self-consciousness would be obeyed and not a sufficient one.


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