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A Robot Has Passed a Self-Awareness Test for the First Time

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Self-Awareness Test
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A robot at Ransselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York has solved the famous ‘King’s Wise Men’ puzzle, which is a classic logic and self-awareness test.

Here is how the puzzle goes:

A King invites the three wisest men in the country to participate in the contest for the position of the King’s advisor. He tells them that he will put either a white or a blue hat on their heads and informs them that at least one of these hats will be blue. There are no mirrors in the room and the wise men are not allowed to talk to each other, so they can’t see the color of their own hats but are able to see each other’s hats. The task is to work out the color of the hat they are wearing using the given information.

I don’t know if you managed to find the solution, but one of the three Nao robots that participated in the test certainly did. Of course, it was an adapted version of the puzzle, tailored to artificial intelligence and its limitations.

The robots were told that two of them had been given a “dumbing pill” that rendered them unable to speak (in fact, they simply had their volume switch turned off) while the third robot had been given a “placebo”. Then the tester asked them which pill they had received. As a result, only one of the robots was able to make a noise saying: “I don’t know,” since the other two were mute. Having heard its own voice, it figured out that it was the one that had received the placebo and put its hand up, saying: “Sorry, I know now. I was able to prove that I was not given a dumbing pill.”

You can watch this cute robot in the video below:

You may think that it’s not the hardest puzzle to solve, but, in reality, it’s extremely difficult for robots. Apart from listening and understanding (which many robots are able to do), they need to hear their own voice and distinguish it from others. Moreover, they need to work out the answer based on the fact of hearing their voice.

Self-aware robots may sound like a scary thing, but the researchers who conducted this test see the results in the positive light. Team leader Selmer Bringsjord said that the successful completion of similar tests will make robots adopt new abilities and become useful to humans.

At the same time, it should be noted that the test was rather limited, so the results only indicate that the robots were self-aware in a specific situation. Just like with the computer that passed the Turing test last year pretending to be a 13-year-old boy, the results are not conclusive but are quite promising for the development of smarter robots.

In any case, artificial intelligence at this stage is very far away from being truly self-conscious and human-like. The reason is that robots just can’t handle the volume of information that the human brain can process. But who knows where the future advancements in technology and robotics could lead us…

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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