Mankind took one baby step closer to creating true AI recently. While machines still can't really think for themselves or plot the downfall of humanity, researchers at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne have taught them to lie. Deceit is a deeply human characteristic, and not one you generally expect to find in something with a microchip for a brain.
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Engadget reports on the methods used to turn adorable little robots into liars, with their pants permanently on fire. The robots were programmed to seek out deposits of food. In their early days, they would light up to inform their fellow robot comrades of this fact. After a few “tweaks” by the researchers, the little robots learned that they would get more food for themselves if they didn't inform their friends.
Right now we've got the robots fighting amongst themselves for limited resources, which is fine. But what happens when they generalize this behavior over to their dealings with humans? HAL didn't have any problems 'hiding the truth' from his human minders, and I think we all know how that turned out. These Swiss researchers are doing impressive work, but I fear they're only hastening our inevitable fall before the robot hordes.
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Still, it's an awesome story!