Thanks to movies like I Robot, The Terminator, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, robots get a pretty bad rap for plotting to take over the world and enslave the human race that created them. Fortunately for the reputations of friendly neighborhood robots everywhere, however, such conspiracy theories of a technological takeover are generally considered science fiction (emphasis on the “fiction” part). That is, until now.
Is your Roomba vacuum about to sync with Siri and take you hostage? British scientists plan to find out.
Cambridge University researchers at the The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) plan to determine whether technology could end up destroying human civilization by studying the existential threats posed by biotechnology, artificial life, nanotechnology and climate change. Think it’s all a joke? The scientists involved certainly seem pretty serious about it, saying that dismissing concerns of a potential robot uprising would be “dangerous.”
While the researchers admit that “the seriousness of these risks is difficult to assess”, they feel that uncertainty in and of itself is cause for concern, given what’s at stake. Creeped out yet? Here are a few more chilling quotes from a professor involved in the study:
“It seems a reasonable prediction that some time in this or the next century intelligence will escape from the constraints of biology.” As machines become smarter than the humans that built them, we as a society may find ourselves at the mercy of “machines that are not malicious, but machines whose interests don’t include us”. *Shivers*
So while we wait for the scientists to make their determination (and eye our iPhones suspiciously from across our offices), we’ll ponder what a world run by robots might look like. At the moment, our best guess is it might start sort of like theTrapper Keeper episode of South Park (but hopefully without Rosie O’Donnell).