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Robots Have Learned To Be Deceitful


In human-style fashion, robots are learning to be deceitful. In one experiment, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta developed an algorithm that allowed robots to decide whether or not to deceive other humans or robots. If the robots decided to take the route of deceit, the researchers included an algorithm to allow the robot decide how to deceive the people and robots while reducing the likelihood that the person or robot being deceived will ever find out.

In the experiment, a robot was given some resources to guard. It frequently checked on the resources but started visiting false locations whenever it detected the presence of another robot in the area. This experiment was sponsored by the United States Office for Naval Research, which means it might have military applications. Robots guarding military supplies could change their patrol routes if they noticed they were being watched by enemy forces.

In another experiment, this time at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale of Lausanne in Switzerland, scientists created 1,000 robots and divided them into ten groups. The robots were required to look for a “good resource” in a designated area, while they avoided hanging around a “bad resource.” Each robot had a blue light, which it flashed to attract other members of its group whenever it found the good resource. The best 200 robots were taken from this first experiment, and their algorithms were “crossbred” to create a new generation of robots.

The robots improved on finding the good resource. However, this led to congestion as other robots crowded around the prize. In fact, things got so bad that the robot that found the resource was sometimes pushed away from its find. 500 generations later, the robots learned to keep their lights off whenever they found the good resource. This was to prevent congestion and the likelihood that they would be sent away if other members of the group joined them. At the same time, other robots evolved to find the lying robots by seeking areas where robots converged with their lights off, which is the exact opposite of what they were programmed to do.

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