Friday, April 23, 2010

Japanese Robot is Self-aware

Takeno's self-awareness research

Self-awareness in robots is being investigated by Junichi Takeno [3] at Meiji University in Japan. Takeno is asserting that he has developed a robot capable of discriminating between a self-image in a mirror and any other having an identical image to it[4][5], and this claim has already been reviewed. (Takeno, Inaba & Suzuki 2005) Takeno asserts that he first contrived the computational module called a MoNAD, which has a self-aware function, and he then constructed the artificial consciousness system by formulating the relationships between emotions, feelings and reason by connecting the modules in a hierarchy (Igarashi, Takeno 2007). Takeno completed a mirror image cognition experiment using a robot equipped with the MoNAD system. Takeno proposed the Self-Body Theory stating that "humans feel that their own mirror image is closer to themselves than an actual part of themselves." The most important point in developing artificial consciousness or clarifying human consciousness is the development of a function of self awareness, and he claims that he has demonstrated physical and mathematical evidence for this in his thesis. (Takeno 2008[6]. He also demonstrated that robots can study episodes in memory where the emotions were stimulated and use this experience to take predictive actions to prevent the recurrence of unpleasant emotions (Torigoe, Takeno 2009).

Name: Junichi Takeno

Profession: Dr. ord-Professor, Meiji University (, 1-1-1 Higashimita, Tama-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa, 214-8571 Japan)

Specialty: Autonomous Robot, Humanoid Robot, Robot Vision, Facial Expression of Robot, Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Consciousness, Emotion and Feelings of Robot, 3D Tele-operational Robot, Association and Phrase Database, Conscious Network, Mind of Robot.

Editor of the International Journal of RSJ (Robotic Society of Japan), 1991-,
General Chair of ICAM94 (International Conference of Advanced Mechatronics)
Executive Committee of IEEE R & A 97 etc.
Program Committee of IAS4 etc.
Trustee of RSJ, 1998-2000
Chairperson of Advanced Robotics, RSJ, 1998-2000
President of the IFToMM sub-commission for Asia, 2000-
Program Committee of IROS 2006.
Visiting Professor of Karlsruhe University, Germany, 1989
Guest Professor of Karlsruhe University, Germany., 1994

Centennially Awards of JSME (The Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers), 1997
Best paper of SCI 2003, -2004, CCCT04, IEA/AIE 2005


Junichi Takeno

Computer Science, the School of Science and Technology, Meiji University, Kawasaki-City, JAPAN

Mirror image cognition refers to the fact that humans are aware of self-image in a mirror. I can identify my own image in a mirror among from many images. I think other people also identify their own images in the mirror just as I do, considering the fact that they use a mirror to get dressed or make up their face, looking at the mirror. This phenomenon is not considered a theme of scientific study on reason that it is a subjective matter. I believe that scientific research is necessary to answer the question of “why can I identify my image in the mirror?” I call this problem the mystery of mirror image cognition.

I’m trying to solve this mystery using a mechanical system called robot. In the case of a robot, unlike humans and animals, all parts and details of the robot are scientifically demonstratable and the process is understood by all humans universally. If we build a robot that is capable of scientifically demonstrating mirror image cognition, we will be ready to start clarifying mirror image cognition of humans by analyzing the robot in detail. This would also lead to clarification of self awareness of humans. It may eventually be possible to scientifically demonstrate existence of consciousness in humans. I believe the robot is the mirror for scientifically showing existence of “I.”

Let me pick some important points to be considered in the efforts to realize the robot for demonstrating mirror image cognition. First, any human has never seen his or her face since he or she was born. Humans have no information about their own image, the face in particular. This means that the robot for studying the problem of mirror image cognition should never have perfect information about itself at the outset. Second, humans cannot discover the self image in a mirror immediately after they were born. At about 2 years of age, they start to discover their images in the mirror. To solve the mystery of humans, we need to account for the process of development of cognition from the stage of inability of discovering self image to the stage of being able to discover it in a mirror.

Furthermore, the functions enabled by the computer programs embedded in the robot must be able to describe the facts generally known to be the working of human consciousness. These facts include, for example, self awareness, multiplicity of consciousness and consciousness of others.

My study group and I have succeeded in developing a robot capable of recognizing its mirror image 100% correctly, taking the above-mentioned points in consideration. Our robot is a small, commonplace robot. We incorporated a neural network program into the robot. The program uses recurrent networks, called MoNAD, as the basic modules. These networks are arranged hierarchically. The robot mimics the behavior of the counterpart robot in front of a mirror using the MoNADs. The robot recognizes the behavior of self and the other and calculates the success rate (rate of agreement) of its mimicking motion also by the MoNADs. The success rate was about 70% in the experiments. The success rate was not 100% and yet we came to the conclusion that the robot discovers its mirror image 100% physically. Demonstrating this conclusion of ours is one of the important themes of my speech today. We call this robot equipped with hierarchical MoNADs networks conscious robot because it realizes mirror image cognition.

I’d like to introduce this conscious robot and the details of the experiments, as well as future prospects. I also explain the mirror therapy advocated by Dr. Ramachandran based on the results of our successful experiments. I will also refer to illusion of reality that occurs in the human brain.

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