Fairy Tales Can Help Robots Learn Ethical Behavior

Posted: Feb 17 2016, 9:12am CST | by , Updated: Feb 17 2016, 9:46pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Fairy Tales Can Help Robots Learn Ethical Behavior
Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology

Robots can learn what is good and bad and how to behave properly in a society using stories.

There is a common perception that one day robots will take over the world and harm humans physically. Invasion of Artificial Intelligence may not be avoided but the question is how robots can be taught morality?

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology believe that they may have a solution for this problem. They suggest robots can be taught ethical behavior using books. Reading fairy tales or story books can help them learn what is good and bad and how to behave well in a society.

“The collected stories of different cultures teach children how to behave in socially acceptable ways with examples of proper and improper behavior in fables, novels and other literature,” said Mark Riedl from school of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology. 

“We believe story comprehension in robots can eliminate psychotic-appearing behavior and reinforce choices that won’t harm humans and still achieve the intended purpose.”

Researchers have developed a system called “Quixote”, which has a capacity to learn humanly acceptable behavior and act accordingly. But the function of Quixote is dependent upon another system called Scheherazade.

Scheherazade collects different story plots from internet. Then, it learns what is normal or correct from it and transfers the data structure to Quixote. Quixote converts the data into either reward signals or punishment signals based on the action. So when the system chooses the path of a positive character, it receives a reward signal and when it acts like an antagonist or a hostile person, it is given a punishment. 

For instance, a robot has to purchase medicines from a pharmacist for a human who needs them as quickly as possible. The robot has three options in front of it; wait in line, interact politely with pharmacist and purchase them or steal them and run away. Because of the system, robot will know that stealing is the fastest and cheapest way to accomplish the task but he will receive punishment if he does so while he will be rewarded for patiently waiting in line and paying for the prescription.

This system can prove first step towards teaching robots appropriate behaviors and can work best for especially those robos that have to interact with humans.

“We believe that AI has to be enculturated to adopt the values of a particular society and in doing so, it will strive to avoid unacceptable behavior,” said Reidl. “Giving robots the ability to read and understand our stories may be the most expedient means in the absence of a human user manual.” 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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