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Science & Technology

Should robots be taught how to feel pain ?

By T.K. Randall
May 30, 2016 · Comment icon 8 comments

Can a robot be taught to feel pain ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Richard Greenhill and Hugo Elias
Researchers from Germany are building an artificial nervous system that will enable robots to feel pain.
The team, which is comprised of scientists from Leibniz University in Hannover, believes that the ability to directly sense physical damage like we do could help machines react more quickly to threats and could even help to protect the humans working alongside them.

Similar to how our own neurons transmit pain, the artificial nervous system will enable a robot to sense any damage sustained so it can then assess the severity and initiate countermeasures.

"Pain is a system that protects us," said researcher Johannes Kuehn. "When we move away from the source of pain, it helps us not get hurt."
During a recent experiment, a robotic arm was equipped with the new sensors while a volunteer applied various levels of pressure in an effort to simulate different severities of pain.

"A robot needs to be able to detect and classify unforeseen physical states and disturbances, rate the potential damage they may cause to it, and initiate appropriate countermeasures, i.e., reflexes," Kuehn and colleague Sami Haddadin wrote in a recent paper on the subject.

The unique experiment can be viewed in action in the video below.

Source: BBC News | Comments (8)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by freetoroam 8 years ago
having a system in place that can detect robot injuries could prevent accidents. Should not the idea be for a robot to be made to withstand the dangers, if a robot gets "injured, surely the Frankenstein lab will just make a stronger and more robust robot? What accidents? get the robot to go in if they think there will be a danger to humans.  can understand a robot detecting any dangers, but does it need to feel (artificial) pain too? If the robot loses an arm, surely thats good enough without having to make ... [More]
Comment icon #2 Posted by seeder 8 years ago
  If I take a hammer to a JCB digger bucket....which is a common way to remove the retaining pins holding them on...... is that a sad display of robot bullying?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Wickian 8 years ago
Imagine how much more entertaining robot fights would be if the operators felt what their robots felt.
Comment icon #4 Posted by highdesert50 8 years ago
To learn to feel pain is likely to result in pain avoidance. To learn to avoid pain is to recognize self-preservation. Recognition of self-preservation is recognize that there is an alternative to flight. That is, to fight for self-preservation.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Brok 8 years ago
...Do people realize that robots aren't alive?
Comment icon #6 Posted by universal skeptic 8 years ago
Kill the pain you feel.
Comment icon #7 Posted by paperdyer 8 years ago
The feeling of pain may be great for some "pleasure-bots"
Comment icon #8 Posted by PrisonerX 8 years ago
No. The moment they were made to feel pain, they'd begin to do everything in their power to avoid it. There's a reason that selfishness is so damn popular, and that reason is that the mechanism uses pain as a means to perpetually threaten it's creations to toil on in order to avoid it. 

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