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Robots Are Being Taught How To Say 'No'

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Researchers at Tufts University are teaching robots a technique teenagers long ago mastered, how to say no to an order. When the researcher asks a robot to walk off a ledge, the robot asks itself, do I know how to? Am I able to? Am I obligated based on my social role? The robot looks at the ledge and concludes.

UNIDENTIFIED ROBOT: That is unsafe.

MONTAGNE: Yeah, and he didn't jump. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.