Thursday, September 30, 2010

Becoming Aware

Robots have passed various milestones on the road to true theory of mind

Mirror self-recognition

Recognising that the reflection in a mirror is your own is the ultimate mark of self-awareness, and in humans requires theory of mind.
In 2007, Kevin Gold, now at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York state, and Brian Scasselatti of Yale University reported that their humanoid robot, Nico, could recognise itself - by tracking its movements in the mirror.
The researchers emphasize the difference between Nico and human mirror-gazers. “This robot did self-recognition and nothing else,” says Gold. A human, by contrast, has a “rich world” of contextual information through which they interpret an image of themselves.

False belief

This sign of theory of mind requires someone to realise that another’s beliefs differ from their own. Children tend to master it at age 4 or 5.
To test it in humans, the subject is shown a scene in which person A puts an object in a drawer and leaves the room. Person B then moves the object. When person A returns, young children predict that they will look for the object in the new hiding place, despite the fact that person A would be unaware of the move.
Not so Leonardo, a robot created by Cynthia Breazeal and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It uses face recognition to assign specific knowledge to individuals.

Follow my gaze

“Joint attention”Movie Camera is the tendency to both guide and follow someone else’s gaze. It is considered necessary for complex social interactions, deducing other people’s mental states and the learning of language and cooperation.
Octavia, a robot with a head, highly expressive face and arms at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, can do at least the first part of this task. Her moving eyes follow a caregiver’s gaze as it shifts between two objects.
Greg Trafton and his colleagues at NRL hope to use Octavia to simulate the experiences of young children to help figure out how gaze-following emerges in humans.
Via: NS

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