Isaac Asimov warned us what could happen in “Liar!”, the very first story to use the word robotics. Back then the Good Doctor assumed that a robot would tell lies in a mistaken attempt to resolve a conflict among the Three Laws of Robotics. A recent experiment shows he gave them too much credit. Like any human whose rice bowl is threatened, robots will routinely lie to protect their food:
At the start, the robots produced blue light at random. However, as the robots became better at finding food, the light became more and more informative and the bots became increasingly drawn to it. The red ring is large enough for just eight robots, so they had to jostle each other for the right to “feed”. The effects of this competition became clear when Mitri, Floreano and Keller allowed the emission of blue light to evolve along with the rest of the robots’ behavior.
As before, they shone randomly at first and as they started to crowd round the food, their lights increasingly gave away its presence. The more successful robots became more secretive. By the 50th generation, they became much less likely to shine their lights near the food than elsewhere in the arena.
[Via Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol.]