THE pearly white humanoid watches placidly as the woman moves a toy brick sitting on the table. Inside, iCub’s imagination is running wild.
The robot is being tested for its ability to track the mental states of others. Known as theory of min this gives humans many sophisticated traits,
including empathy and deception Robots have demonstrated theory of mind before but iCub is different. Last week, at the Living Machines conference in London, researchers revealed that it is the first robot to acquire theory of mind without
specific programming. “This all emerged,” says Peter Dominey, leader of the research team.
Dominey is one of a band of roboticists who are showing that building with basic biological machinery – instead of ever-more complex algorithms – can endow robots with lifelike characteristics. “We can directly take advantage of the evolutionary lessons of nature,” says biologist Joseph Ayers …