December 22, 2005

First Step Toward Artificial Consciousness

From Discovery News: A robot that recognizes itself in a mirror has been developed by researchers at Meiji University in Japan.

I learned of this at the always-provocative YARGB, where there's an interesting, linguistically tangled discussion in the comments. I think some of the commenters are getting hung up on whether this extremely rudimentary robot is truly self-aware or not. That's like asking whether Australopithecus took a shower every morning and then read the Times on the train to work. This robot is a first step in a long and -- if we survive -- inexorable process. Shouting, "No, it's not truly self-aware!" isn't going to hold back the future.

The only thing I want to know about artificial intelligence is, will it be kinder and more foresightful than we are? Actually that's two questions, and I'm mainly interested in the first.