How Zombies Could Be the Future of AI

Robots were designed to be “zombies,” not self-aware in the way we are. Photo illustration by Juliana Jiménez. Photo by Thinkstock. In July, news headlines blared that robots passed a “self-awareness” test. Naturally, the articles made the semi-joking references to Skynet and robot overlords that seem to accompany every minor development in robotics or artificial intelligence. Missing from the coverage was any thoughtful discussion about what it means for a robot to pass a self-awareness test. Typically, artificial intelligence “breakthroughs” don’t live up to the press release. (See, for example, the misleading claims that an AI was as smart as a 4-year-old.) But if anything, the journalists here undersold the test’s true implications. No, the robots aren’t really “self-aware” in the way we are. They were designed to be “zombies”…


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