Let's Make Robots!

Do robots have personality?

Many sci-fi shows and books depict robots with personality, sometime as the result of an accident like the movie "Short Circuit", sometimes intentionally as in the movie "I, Robot". Now that I am working for Dagu I have discovered that even simple robots demonstrate personality.

At the moment I have made several "Mr. General" robots. In theory they are all identical and should have the same program. In practise I have to tweak the program for each individual robot to calibrate the servos, sensors etc. Despite trying to make them all the same, each has a different behaviour. So far I have had:

Shy robot, shys away from your hand instead of following it (sensor wires back to front).
Exorcist robot, A robot that worked but the head movement was unusual (sensor wires and servos swapped)
Paranoid robot, afraid to move (edge sensors not calibrated properly)
Suicide robot (doesn't detect edge till too late!)
Cataract robot, A robot slightly blind on the left side (possible heat damage to 1 phototransistor)
Angry robot, A robot that spun about wildly (loose wire)
Depressed robot, A robot that sulked and stared at the floor (flat batteries)

Even without human error, when you put 2 or more robots together you get other personality traits emerge. With two robots together I've had:

Boy Bot - Girl Bot, one that is dominant and chases the other.
Battle Bots, robot arguments where they shake their heads at eachother and push each other about.
Doggy Bots, a robot sniffing another like a dog.
Wrestling Bots, 1 robot lifting the other so its wheels can't grip and then pushing it about.

This unexpected behavior is both strange and fun to watch and results mainly from the fact that no two robots are the same due to component tolerances and the fact that each robots sensors are getting different information.

Or is it the ghost in the machine?

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Personality is likely a more subjective charecteristic, not what is necessarily there. A book that goes over robotic bahaviors of simple machines appearing complex is Braitenbergs "Vehicles - Experiments in Synthetic Psychology" .

My observation is that personality and defect often is the same.

A Seattle grunge rocker with pimples and a scruffy voice is described as having a personality, but a slick New York lawyer in expensive suit is described as without personality. A brand new Honda car is said to have no personality while an old VW Beetle with scratches and dents with black smoke pouring out of the back is said to have plenty of it.


My conclusion is that: the amount of personality equals the amount of defects or faults. 

Actually I think Freud or Jung defined personality like this: the sum of a persons defects/neurosi..

Anyway I agree :)

Ok, valid points. But not all the personality traits exhibited by these robots were due to faults. Some are due to component tolerance. Is this equivalent to the differences in our DNA that result in personality traits?

In fact even the faults due to human error, are they not the robot equivalent of faulty DNA?