Self aware artificial intelligence has been the stuff of science fiction, often stories in which humanity doesn’t come out on top. See: Terminator. But now, a robot in New York has managed to pass the King’s Wise Men puzzle that serves as a test of the awareness of self. The test is as follows:
‘The King called the three wisest men in the country to his court to decide who would become his new advisor. He placed a hat on each of their heads, such that each wise man could see all of the other hats, but none of them could see their own. Each hat was either white or blue. 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. The king also announced that the contest would be fair to all three men. The wise men were also forbidden to speak to each other. The king declared that whichever man stood up first and announced the color of his own hat would become his new adviser.’
Two robots at the Ransselaer Polytechnic Institute adopted the puzzle for their three robots. The robots were even dumbed down, being prevented from talking before all three could be asked which robot was able to speak.
At first, none of them could solve the puzzle. “I don’t know.” they all said. But at hearing their own voices, one robot said, “Sorry, I know now!”