Dario Floreano’s research at EPFL includes studying the role of evolution in robotics. According to a note in Discover Magazine, Robots Evolve And Learn How to Lie, he’s observed the discovery of lying.
“Floreano and his colleagues outfitted robots with light sensors, rings of blue light, and wheels and placed them in habitats furnished with glowing â€œfood sourcesâ€ and patches of â€œpoisonâ€ that recharged or drained their batteries. Their neural circuitry was programmed with just 30 â€œgenes,â€ elements of software code that determined how much they sensed light and how they responded when they did. The robots were initially programmed both to light up randomly and to move randomly when they sensed light. To create the next generation of robots, Floreano recombined the genes of those that proved fittestâ€”those that had managed to get the biggest charge out of the food source.
By the 50th generation, the robots had learned to communicateâ€”lighting up, in three out of four colonies, to alert the others when theyâ€™d found food or poison. The fourth colony sometimes evolved â€œcheaterâ€ robots instead, which would light up to tell the others that the poison was food, while they themselves rolled over to the food source and chowed down without emitting so much as a blink.”