Human-like robot tricks people into thinking it has a mind of its own

Study co-author Agnieszka Wykowska pictured with the deceptively “self-aware” robot iCub. (Image credit: Italian Institute of Technology)

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An uncannily human-like robot that had been programmed to socially interact with human companions tricked people into thinking that the mindless machine was self-aware, according to a new study.

The digital deceiver, which the researchers dubbed “iCub,” is a child-size humanoid robot created by the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Genoa to study social interactions between humans and robots. This advanced android, which stands at 3.6 feet (1.1 meters) tall, has a humanlike face, camera eyes that can maintain eye contact with people and 53 degrees of freedom that allow it to complete complex tasks and mimic human behaviors. Researchers can program iCub to act remarkably humanlike, as demonstrated in its 2016 appearance on Italy’s Got Talent (opens in new tab) when the robot performed Tai Chi moves and wowed the judges with its clever conversational skills.

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