You know all those movies we’ve seen where robots take over the world? Movies like the Terminator series, and Starship Troopers? And also the greatest TV show of all time, Battlestar Galactica? Well we hope you had fun watching them, tripping out on the crazy evil robot weirdness of it all, because pretty soon, all those movies and all those TV shows are going to be called DOCUMENTARIES.
At least, according to some scholars at fancypants British university Cambridge. Yes, granted, British people are weird and they drink so much that half the time they are probably hallucinating. It is still worth mentioning that some professional Cambridge smart people who get paid to think about how fucked up things are going to be in the future are exploring what they see as the rather plausible idea that robots might try to wipe us out.
This group of robot-fearers is called the Center for the Study of Existential Risk. Among their members is a philosophy professor named Huw Price, who, in a recent Guardian article, expressed concern about robots which “are not malicious, but machines whose interests don’t include us.” (I take a little comfort in knowing the robots will probably try to kill Price first, when they get sick of all the unsuccessful attempts to program them to pronounce his first name. But only a little.)
What Price and his Cambridge buds are trying to do is just get us to at least consider the possibility that all this technology we are creating might find its way out of our control. Price again, in the Guardian: “It seems a reasonable prediction that some time in this or the next century intelligence will escape from the constraints of biology.” Hm. It also seems reasonable Price will not be invited to speak at a garden club dinner, or to a Brownie Troop, or to a theoretically named group called the “Maybe it’s not that bad-ers.”
Weirdly, one of the dudes involved with this project is Jaan Tallinn, a co-founder of Skype. I can’t think of a Skype joke. You know what, I am going to just create a robot that can make a Skype joke. And after he gives me a good one, I am going to have that genius kid from Sierra Leone turn him into a toaster.
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