Theory of Mind... for a Robot

Brian Scassellati

One of the fundamental social skills for humans is a theory of other minds. This set of skills allows us to attribute beliefs, goals, and desires to other individuals. To take part in normal human social dynamics, a robot must not only know about the properties of objects, but also the properties of animate agents in the world. This paper presents the theories of Leslie (1994) and Baron-Cohen (1995) on the development of theory of mind in human children and discusses the potential application of both of these theories to building robots with similar capabilities. Initial implementation details and basic skills (such as finding faces and eyes and distinguishing animate from inanimate stimuli) are introduced. We further speculate on the usefulness of a robotic implementation in evaluating and comparing these two models.

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