Yes Qbo, you're looking in a mirror and this is you. Congratulations, you're now officially self aware! Okay, all us humans are gonna run for the hills now, see ya!
Obviously, Qbo is too cute to be Skynet. Unless that's what it wants us to think. But let's just forget about all that right now and watch Qbo learn what he looks like:
The mirror test is commonly used to identify whether animals are self-aware, and all it takes to pass is the ability to recognize that when you look at yourself in a mirror you're looking at you and not some other human that looks just like you. Humans pass (after about 18 months), as do most apes, elephants, dolphins, orcas, European magpies, and a barn owl1 named Wesley. Of course, this doesn't really apply to robots and just because Qbo can recognize itself as an object doesn't actually mean that the robot is self-aware, but it's fun to think about all the same.
For the record, here's how Qbo's creators explain what's going on in this demo:
Qbo has several stored answers and behaviors in an internal knowledge base, that we upgrade as the projects evolves, to make questions or orders to Qbo such as “What it this? or “Do this”. Qbo interprets the object “Myself” as a an ordinary object, for which it has special answers in its internal knowledge base such as “Woah. I’m learning myself” or “Oh. This is me. Nice”. Qbo selects its reflection in the mirror in the image that he sees using the stereoscopic vision, and one of our engineers interacts (speaks) to him so that Qbo can learn to recognize himself as another object.
[ TheCorpora Blog ]
1 This is somewhat remarkable because barn owls (and indeed most owls) are, in general, idiots. I speak from experience.
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.