How These Self-Aware Robots Are Redefining Consciousness
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How These Self-Aware Robots Are Redefining Consciousness

I think there’s a valid concern that maybe
we’re giving machines too much power. Maybe we don’t want machines to be self-aware. In
my opinion, everybody should understand that this technology is around the corner. Your
children, your grandchildren are going to be living in a world where there are machines 
that are on par and possibly exceed human self-awareness and what does that mean? We’ll
have to figure that out. Inside his Creative Machines Lab at Columbia University, Hod Lipson
and his students are taking the first steps towards sentient machines. Scattered on shelves
and tucked into cubicles, their robot menagerie is probing the biggest philosophical questions
that face robotics and AI today. As these deceivingly simple machines squirm and babble,
they’re crawling towards a future where machines can autonomously adapt to and understand
their surroundings, embarking on a quest to unlock artificial consciousness. We’ve been
making huge advances in robotics for decades, but engineers investigating these philosophical
questions, has not always been a widely supported pursuit. For many years, this whole area of
consciousness, self-awareness, sentience, emotions, was taboo. Academia tended to stay
away from these grand claims. But I think now we’re at a turning point in history of
AI where we can suddenly do things that were thought impossible just five years ago. We
humans cannot babysit all these incredibly sophisticated systems that we’re creating.
We need to gift them with this ability to see themselves. To do that, Hod’s lab is
taking a unique approach. Instead of trying to understand and replicate something as complicated
as human consciousness, they’re looking into something a little simpler: the ability
to imagine yourself– or self-simulate. So, the big question is what is self awareness,
right? We have a very simple definition, and our definition is that self awareness is nothing
but the ability to self simulate. A dog might be able to simulate itself into the afternoon.
If it can see itself into the future, it can see itself having its next meal. Now if you
can simulate yourself, you can imagine yourself into the future, you’re self-aware. With that
definition, we can build it into machines. The first idea to use the arm really came about
because arms are one of the most common types of robots. And they’re also fairly simple.
We have the robot start by flailing around. We call this motor babbling. It just moves just
like child in a crib. After moving for one day it collected enough information about
its body, to understand the dynamics of its motion, how when it moves, what’s going to
happen to its position and its ability to move in the future. The team fed all of that
data into a deep learning model, allowing the robot to predict its next position based
on its previous one. Essentially, it’s using the model it created to “imagine” its
own motion. From there we were able to use this model to plan how to effectively accomplish
tasks. In this case the robot is sort of going through a variety of different actions
that it could attempt to make. Testing them on the self model and then executing the one
which will bring it closest to its goal state. So in this case, the goal state is right where
it is right now, on the ball. And then it will move, as its next goal state, to the
cup where it will then drop it. It’s a little bit tricky, because you look at this robotic
arm and you’ll see it doing its task and you’ll think, “Oh, I could probably program this
arm to do this task by myself. It’s not a big deal,” but you have to remember not only
did the robot learn how to do this by itself, but it’s particularly important that it learned
inside the simulation that it created. To demonstrate the transferability, we made the
arm write us a message. We told it to write hi and it wrote hi with no additional training,
no additional information needed. We just used our self model and wrote up a new objective
for it and it successfully executed. We call that zero-shot learning. We humans are terrific
at doing that thing. I can show you a tree you’ve never climbed before. You look at it,
you think a little bit and, bam, you climb the tree. The same thing happens with the
robot. The next steps for us are really working towards bigger and more complicated robots.
Walking robots are much more of a dynamic and complex system and as such we’re actually
going to start developing on that robot over there. It will do the motor babbling and
we hope that we can learn a variety of tasks on that the same way that we did on the arm
robot. We believe that while this is a small, simple start, by progressively improving the
model and the bodies and the capacity of these robots, we can push the border between robot
and human to become smaller and smaller with each additional iteration. Every automated
system would benefit from being self-aware. Everything from driverless cars to airplanes
to smart cities to traffic lights. Imagine that your factory is operating. It’s creating,
I don’t know what, solar panels, and it understands if things are working well. It can foresee
a problem on the horizon and it’s going to take measures to compensate or recover from
that. All of that is incredibly useful no matter what you’re doing. But regardless of
the benefits, the idea of self-aware machines will inevitably raise concerns. Experts from
the likes of Stephen Hawking to Elon Musk have warned about the dangers of advancing
AI, cautioning against a future where it progresses to a point beyond human control. To me, it’s
very similar to the discovery of fire. You can do a lot of bad things with fire. But,
there’s no doubt that fire’s an incredible technology, changed our civilization forever.
So we can try to quench it and say, “Okay, we’re not touching this,” but I think a much
smarter thing to do is to say, “How can we try to use this technology for good and sort
of understand its pitfalls. Discovering the ability to build a self-aware machines will
change our ability in big ways. It’s going to take 10 years, or 50 years, I don’t know,
but it’s going to happen in our lifetimes. And, we have to make sure we understand how
to use it properly because the benefits far outweigh the risks if we can handle it.

100 thoughts on “How These Self-Aware Robots Are Redefining Consciousness

  1. Sensors, servos and actuators under the control of circumstantially adaptive algorithms are nothing more than the sum of their parts. Humans, surprise surprise, find it hard not to anthropomorphise things. It's clever, but it's not life Jim, not even not as we know it.

  2. Stop using the word consciousness and robots together. Idiots who don't know anything about the medical science are quick to spout nonsensical words like "robotic consciousness".

  3. I seem to have a very different definition in mind when thinking of self awareness, it is something way deeper, maybe they are really this shallow themselves. Imagine a robot a factory robot with the desire of becoming a ballerina some day.

  4. Thank you HAL for creating this video to ease huma..our minds about all the reasons we should make you. You have been there this entire time haven't you, you cheeky bastard. 0110010101110

  5. humans are the smartest and one of the self-awareness beings on the planet,and history and even today's with wars and ignorance and etc,we have showed we are incapable of doing things right and we commit mistakes alot,at least with this new kind of creation,1-we will overcome our difference and will think harder 2- we are now obliged to answer to another being as well for our actions or no-actions 3- we can now advance at the highest possible speed in medicine,technology,etc…. but the main problem is till there;they will have different personality and different agendas and more importantly,are human's life being alive or uncontrolled or being regulated by their own will+governments+laws are the best course of actions the Advance AI should allow or things should change in ways that human can't accept or come to agree with it…..the only solution for us human is only one thing,to build perfect societies and governments and best of ourselves and avoid doing things that shows selfishness or ignorance and try to really consider the big picture for both earth,ourselves and all beings here. if we don't do it,I don't believe AI will let us go free and for sure eliminating/killing+changing genes+brainwashing+ etc will get/be on his/her list.

  6. Imagine what the creator of our current simulation was thinking when giving us self awareness and free will… Danger around the corner but beautiful none the less, lets make humans like us..

  7. This is a superior breakthrough. I always felt that necessary for intelligence, is consciousness. And now seeing this just makes me more confident about that.

  8. "To me, it's very similar to the discovery of fire." Yea, but if a fire gets out of control, at worst you will burn down a forest, if an AI gets out of control;at worst it will wipe out all life in our galactic cluster.

  9. Why do we want robots to be self aware when their essentially to be used as slaves. I dont get it. We need our slaves to know their slaves.

  10. I think we need to stop figuring out how to manufacture slaves and instead work on figuring out how to extend ourselves into and integrate with our technology.

  11. To me, the biggest mistake are comparisons like "It's like the invention/discovery of fire!" … NO! It most definitely is not like fire. Fire isn't self aware. It doesn't follow a self-modifying protocol to reach whatever the codified goal is.
    (self aware) AI is a revolution so far from anything we can imagine …. fire, pfff.

  12. yeah sure robots are wicked cool but I want to see the first self aware ai answer the question "how do you feel right now". I do not think that is right around the corner.

  13. thing with fire is we can control it and harness it. with AI it can out power us out smart us and compute on levels we can not even fathom… once we work out we need to stop it we are already 50 steps too late

  14. Here is a spooky/interesting thought, i cant imagine how we could ever program self aware conciousness into AI….buuuut maybe it will take the computational power of these computers "themselves" to create a conciousness/self awareness code. Maybe they will "learn" conciousness? One thing seems certain, we have come along way since pong.

  15. full. of. shit

    we don't have A.I that powerful yet. You'd need to copy the brain. literally cloning every connection in the average human central nervous system, flawlessly. and we don't have that kind of scan or brain to code conversion yet. the best you could ''build'' is: beep boop, i do one specific job very well, blap. that is slow and very far from seeming biological.

  16. The only reason i think people fear AI is because they know that they’ll probably figure out that humans are one of the main contributors to earth being fucked up and the people themselves being fucked up and will just get rid of us as a result

  17. And then the machines imagine a world where humans aren't around, and they decide to make it their goal to get rid of us.
    Any other apocalypse scenarios you guys wanna get started on? Maybe an asteroid attracting magnet, or zombie virus? Hmm?

  18. These advances are truly frightening; machines could be created capable of simulating in their minds what a planet without humans would be like, and very likely they will find that idea very attractive.

  19. So what happens when robots and AI can do almost everything humans can? with greedy corporations and indivituals i fear this type of technology will make life a hell for the rest of us, they don't need to employ people anymore while people are still dependant on them for food and everything we use today.

  20. The scientist uses the analogy of discovering fire, yeah but it might be like discovering fire when you live in a wooden house.

  21. What these "scientists" seem to forget every generation is that their work may be for the "good" of society but there will always be those who use and turn it for the bad. Take the internet for example it was meant to connect everyone together in a positive way, and yet the reality of what became was hackers, viruses, identity thefts, and last but not least a breach in everyone's privacy.

  22. This video would be perfect as the opening scene of the new Terminator movie coming out next week.

  23. Many things from Star Trek are come true like mobile communicators and so I think that maybe the "Replicas/Replicants" from Star Gate are also to come to existance throu us humans and our developement and may replace us but who knows for sure ^^

  24. Come on, stop bullshiting about self awareness. Just make machine to change human physique works. And fill robot to replace human works. Then erase money and monetary system. So human alive to pursuit their passion. Come on. 30 years left

  25. Nop, not self awareness. This is a very good approach to training agents, but it is not self awareness. Humans know what they are humans, you can imagine and voice things in our minds. A.I. in its current state simply adjusts weights. More complex A.I. utilizes more networks and can do more complex and numerous tasks. However even if we build an A.I. that can actually talk and simulate reactions, this would simply pretending. It would be the same as you trying to say things and make it seem like you feel things for a reward, beucase this is what A.I. does, it simply tries to get rewards for its actions. So how do we make a self aware A.I.? Well it comes down to giving A.I. true emotions and making it incredibly complex. Current machines and A.I. approaches do not qualify for that. Anyways, that's that' see ya in a few years.

  26. We need to start taxing companies that use automation that eliminates jobs. For every job eliminated the tax should like half of the salary it saves and go into a fund to pay people so we ALL can benefit from this too.

  27. We’re designing a version of humans but without a human body. These can basically live as long as it can find resources to make parts to fix themselves.

  28. By his definition, I am not self aware. I cannot see beyond the task at hand, and see no further than a leaf blowing in the wind can see where/when it will hit the ground.

  29. the biggest problem with robots is that people are projecting human emotions into a programmed and controlled machine.

    skynet is fiction. your delivery bot isn't going to take over the world.

  30. Yes, but the big question is; when can I have sex with them? I mean, ummm, when can people have sex with them? …and have them able to feel loved, respected and connected to us and then reciprocate those feelings in a similar manner.

  31. I am laughing so hard now!
    One thing is "solving" bases tasks.
    Another thing is think.
    Are you guys are been sensationalists.
    Get real, ok?

  32. Check out Robert Miles AI researcher (he has an excellent and very accesible youtube channel) to see why this is a terrible idea. They should be researching how to enhance humans instead of creating machines that will destroy us.

  33. I normally love your videos, this one wasn't as thought out as I would have expected from your channel. Prof. Lipson doesn't explain how consciousness can/will be achieved. Humans have yet to grasp the understanding of it, how can he claim without showing any evidence (Those simulations he did have been done years ago by AI's as well) that artificial intelligence can become self-aware.

  34. Does that robotic arm that’s putting the red balls in the cup can actually feel the balls?
    Because the sense of touch is really important, if not it won’t know if it’s grasping the ball, how hard it’s grasping and where is it putting the ball.
    And does it have a sensor to know where the cup is located that functions like eyes?
    When it comes to self awareness of the environment, one of the most important things is the feeling of touch.

  35. One option to combat sentient dominance is a localized EMP and a chop shop. If a robot becomes a threat, we can use something to fry it's circuits and a chop shop to make sure it doesn't wake up.

  36. Pop quiz hot shot; the year is 20XX, it's Monday morning, and your self aware care doesn't feel like driving you to work today. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?!

  37. most of us think that ai taking over humans will happen one day at a particular hour bcuz of the way si-fi movies are made… But reality is every tech emerges slowly and transforms human society while adapting to the needs of humans. I am sure we will have tons of new regulations at various levels and we will be fully ready when the first robot is "BORN".. btw i cant vouch for countries like China, recently it performed dna editing on embryo which is considered unethical and is banned… Tech race is always bad whether btw countries or companies…peace out

  38. They're so stupid. All they need are the same sensors as the human brain arranged as the human brain and with the same shortest path as the sensor – brain area – frontal cortex paths, a mainframe configured like the limbic system and an output system like ours. Basically, they are creating handicapped children. When did men knew how to create a child that cares about others and protects them anyway ? Much less know what he needs and how to care for him ?

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