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Qbo Robot Figures Out Mirror Trick, Can Now Hit On Other Qbos

Can Qbo tell if it's looking at itself in a mirror or looking at another Qbo?

2 min read
Qbo Robot Figures Out Mirror Trick, Can Now Hit On Other Qbos

qbo mirror test

Remember how last month Qbo learned to recognize itself in a mirror? The big question after that little feat was what would happen if Qbo met another Qbo: would it think it was just looking at itself in a mirror, or would it recognize another model as a unique individual? Well, now we know.

I'd just like to point out that two of our commenters on the Qbo mirror video, Robotbling and Bevan, speculated that Qbo would use exactly this method to differentiate itself in a mirror from another, similar robot: By taking a series of actions (in this case, flashes with a nose LED) and watching whether the other robot responds identically, Qbo is able to determine whether it's looking at a reflection or not. Smart, guys!

As cool as this demo is, it  doesn't really go all that much farther towards settling the question of whether or not a robot can be self-aware. From one perspective, Qbo now has more of a sense of individuality than it did before, but only because it has been programmed that way by a clever human. Personally, I'm of the opinion that this is all fun to think about, but robots are still just running code that we've instructed them how to run. I'm tempted to say that assigning consciousness or self-awareness to a robot would require some sort of emergent behavior that couldn't be traced back to a sensor input or algorithm, but on the other hand, arguably human behaviors are simply the result of algorithms processing sensory information. I guess at the end of the day we may just have to fall back to the ol' Turing Test: If a robot acts self-aware in such a way that we can't distinguish it from a human acting self-aware, then there we go, we've created at least a limited form of artificial consciousness.

[ TheCorpora Blog ]

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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