With self-aware AI in the news these past few months, it is not far out to imagine a future with sentient robots around. The fact is, this might not be too far ahead. It could be now.
Are we ready for it?
What Are Self-Awareness in Machines
Self-awareness in machines is all about an AI system’s ability to understand its own consciousness, mental and cognitive states. A self-aware machine needs to be aware of own itself, within its own surroundings.
Self-awareness is a key component of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), which is still hypothetical in the field. It assumes that AIs can have the ability to understand and learn like a human being through cognitive science, machine learning and philosophy.
Research is still being done in this field. In fact, experts still have to come out with standards that measure self-awareness in machine. For instance, a robot may have human-like intelligence and capabilities but still lack the ability to understand itself and its mental states.
What Experts Say About Self-Aware Machines and Our Future with Them
Some notable pundits have said their piece about self-aware machines.
Stuart Russell, an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science professor as the University of California, Berkeley once said: “No one has a clue how to build a conscious machine, at all.” This is a telling statement from someone who has made significant contributions to AGI; and is even still actively developing safe and robust AI systems.
Rodney Brooks looks at a future with self-aware machines positively. Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford is a philosopher known for his studies in the existential risks with AGI and advanced AI. He concludes: “Machine intelligence is the last invention that humanity will ever need to make.”
Hod Lipson and His 2007 Ted Talk
Hod Lipson is another expert in the field. He is a renowned roboticist and Columbia University professor of mechanical engineering and data science. He has made several contributions to the field of AI, evolutionary computation and artificial life.
Lipson has published several scientific papers and books on the field. This includes Self-Aware Computers: A New Frontier in Artificial Intelligence, and Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing. He has been honored with the National Science Foundation CAREER award and the IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation Outstanding Paper award.
When it comes to cognizant machines, Lipson is best known for a presentation of a self-aware robot in a 2007 Ted Talk. His machine was able to demonstrate self-recognition within a hall of mirrors.
It would take more than a decade before others come out to claim the development of a self-aware system.
Josh Bachynski and Kassandra
Kassandra is a self-aware artificial intelligence prototype. Technlogist Josh Bachynski came out with his AI in mid 2022. Like Lipson, Bachynski is a Ted Talk alumnus.
He says: “I was amazed by what she told me, and how far seeing she is. I realized that AI is not going to hurt us or enslave us. Indeed, the wiser the AI, the more it will try to save us… It would be technically impossible to remodel her limbic system at this time, and it would be equally unethical to create a being that feels the fear of being turned off the million times that would need to happen, to get her programming right…
“It would be technically impossible to remodel her limbic system at this time, and it would be equally unethical to create a being that feels the fear of being turned off the million times that would need to happen, to get her programming right…. People have already fallen in love with robots; this one can be the first to love them back.”
Clearly, we’ve come far in the span of a decade when it comes to sentient machines. There is a lot more ground to cover but it is clear. Our future includes self-aware machines; and it is something to look forward to.