Robots Can Feel Pain Too


The danger-sensing life-like abilities that are now being engineered into the newly development robotic systems, have far exceeded those of the robots in the traditional classic TV series Lost In Space. Researchers have been working upon a new system that will eventually teach robots how to feel pain.

While that may appear to be counterintuitive; when the most useful aspect of a robot is the lack of the ability to sense any pain, the development is going ahead. Having absolutely no issues with putting artificial intelligence to work inside of dangerous environments, or even using them to accomplish tasks unpleasant and even fatal to that of a human, it appears that the scientific world wants more from AI.

Researchers from the Leibniz University of Hanover are arguing that an artificial robotic nervous system may actually make the robots much safer. They also claim that working alongside robots, such as heavy machinery, people will be more likely to feel more at ease.

According to IEEE Spectrum, “Why is it a good idea for robots to feel pain? The same reason why it’s a good idea for humans to feel pain, said Johannes Kuehn, one of the researchers. Pain is a system that protects us. When we evade from the source of the pain, it helps us not get hurt.” 719114

We can see from the journal notes, the phenomenon is indeed clear to the individuals that are with the congenital analgesia, a rare genetic disorder in where individuals do not feel pain. This interview is by the BBC, with one person diagnosed with congenital analgesia describing how difficult it is to prevent injuries when not knowing when something is hurting you.

Kuehn, alongside his colleague Sami Haddadin, had recently presented research during the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.

This machine is appearing to be wincing and possesses reflexively, moving away when it is hit with light, moderate and severe pain.

According to the Washington Post, “depending on the threat, such as a harsh movement or intense heat, the robot is programmed to retract from the danger.” The continue by adding “the more dangerous it registers the threat to be, the faster the robot will retract and the longer it will avoid the hazardous force.”

IEEE Spectrum has noted that the researchers from Stanford and the University of Rome that they may have already developed a robot that can avoid collisions with humans. However, this research is inspired by the way that humans have the ability to react to certain pain, and then goes another step further, as we can read in their notes:

To equip these robots with a nervous system forces them to prioritize avoidance of their own pain, thus programming them to avoid destroying themselves as well as avoiding collision with humans, according to [Kuehn]. This will trigger different reactions in the robot than just crash avoidance.”

Sources: NPR, IEEE, BBC, YouTube, WashingtonPost.

This article (Robots Can Feel Pain Too) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and AnonHQ


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