A robot from New York passed a self-awareness test back in July last year. There were actually three of them that participated in the self-awareness test called the wise man challenge which goes as follows:
The king of a certain kingdom was looking for a new advisor and decided to call the three wisest men in the land and put them to the test. He placed a hat on each of their heads with the color of the hat being either white or blue. This of course means that they could see the hats of the other two men but not actually their own. The king also mentioned that at least one of them was wearing a blue hat and also, the competition will be fair to all three participants. After that, he declared that the first person to stand up and name the color of their hat becomes his new advisor.
This self-awareness test was adapted to the three robots in the following way; two of the robots were told that they were given a so called ‘dumbing pill’ which stops them from talking. Afterwards, all three robots were asked which robot was still able to speak.
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At first, none of them knew the answer so they all said, ‘I don’t know’. But when one robot heard the noise it made, it said, ‘Sorry, I know now!’. This indicates that the robot realized that it could actually speak even though it was not really sure at first, hence passing the self-awareness test.
Of course this is a very basic test and does not really indicate that the robot is anywhere close to having what humans perceive as actual consciousness. But what this also indicates is that there is huge potential in Artificial Intelligence and if we create more sophisticated robots that pass even more complex self-awareness tests, then perhaps consciousness might just become a thing with robots. Whether or not we should be worried about that is also something that has been debated for decades now, and nobody seems to know the answer.