Robot apocalypse, at a future near you

Hundreds of experts are warning that robots may murder all of us if we continue to let artificial intelligence be developed without restrictions or boundaries. In a warning letter from the Future of Life Institute, the open letter from AI & Robotics researchers say that while AI can have the potential to benefit humanity, that benefit will probably not stem from a military AI arms race.(1)

The researchers speculate that any nation building up AI for military purposes is likely to create a downward spiral of unintended consequences and our ultimate destruction. They say, “If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow. Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce.”(1)

While the researchers believe there is still time to save the world, others are saying that it is already too late. The Week’s James Poulos opines that, “It’s obvious that we’re already far enough along in robotics that mere warnings or even laws can’t stop what’s next. The killer robots are coming.”(2)

If indeed humanity is already on a crash course with killer robots, then how can any single individual make an impact on this robotic future? Poulus withdraws his previous speculation by arguing that if people continue to rely on technology to “do everything for them,” then this co-dependent relationship will end with robots taking over. Poulous says, “Sure, scary letters can help us keep up our guard. But if we keep building robots to take care of everything for us… well… game over, man.”(2)

As the Rational Insanity Paradox goes, even good intentions can lead to disastrous events. You may think that programming a robot to build cars, or deliver lunches, or drive our cars is relatively harmless, but if AI starts to view humans as the parasite (as we very well may be) then it’s Hasta La Vista, baby.(3)

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