Robot Child Abuse
Spare the rod, spoil the child.

It’s only a matter of until robots turn against us thanks to Pentti Haikonen, an electrical engineer and professor of philosophy at the University of Illinois in Springfield. Haikonen is attempting to build a conscious robot that feels by getting it to associate colors with pain!

The problem is that a conventional robot runs on software, 0s and 1s.

“Numbers do not feel like anything and do not appear as red,” Haikonen explains in the May issue of New Scientist. “That is where everything is lost.”

The solution is a robot that runs on hardware (wires, resistors and diodes).

At Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures 2012, Haikonen demoed XCR-1, short for experimental cognitive robot. When XCR-1 receives a swat on the backside it learns to avoid objects, not least of which is the rod.

“Red is red, pain is pain without any interpretation,” says Haikonen. “They are direct experiences to the brain.”

XCR-1 isn’t the only one learning to feel. Asked if he feels guilty about hitting his brainchild, the scientist showed a bit of humanity: “Now that you put it that way, I may feel a little bad.”