Robots running amok?

In “Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man,” John Markoff reports on concerns about whether machines might overrun their human creators. It’s the stuff of science fiction, no? Reminds me of the endgame in Sim Earth.

A robot that can open doors and find electrical outlets to recharge itself. Computer viruses that no one can stop. Predator drones, which, though still controlled remotely by humans, come close to a machine that can kill autonomously.

Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone.

Although I pretty much dismiss this concern out of hand (who would build a machine that’s out of control?), I did have a what-if moment.

  • If machines ran the world, would they wage wars?
  • If machines ran the world, would they immediately take steps to resolve global heating?
  • If machines ran the world, would there be capital punishment?
  • If machines ran the world, would they behave differently toward each other based on the color of their paint?
  • If machines ran the world, would they prevent each other from saying or writing things?
  • If machines ran the world, would they worship humans?

Link to Mr. Markoff’s article from the New York Times.



Filed under Amusements, Atheism, Eco-stuff, Free speech, News, Non-violence, Peace, Science, Skepticism, Technology

2 responses to “Robots running amok?

  1. Actually, I think the whole ‘machines taking over the world’ thing is a bit misguided.

    I don’t think we’ll be replaced by technology. That’s the tribal brain working, splitting humans and machines into US vs THEM. That’s how humans think. Machines would only think this way if we constructed them to do so.

    The more likely outcome is that we’ll begin to absorb our technology more and more, until we become so reliant on our technology that it effectively absorbs us.

  2. Hey, Ubiquitous, thanks for the comment. I agree with you on (a) the misbegotten nature of the worries and (b) likelihood that people will rely on technology to excess.

    In the later parts of the article (I quoted from the lead), though, there are some worthwhile points made. As artificial intelligence advances, there are likely to be people (probably the more superstitious among us) who will respond with alarm. We could probably have some fun imagining the arguments that will be advanced in support of the superstition and alarm.

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