ROBOT: Swiss Hysteria

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Wed Aug 29 2001 - 00:18:18 MDT

Six more years to go, folks. Then robots are going to kill us all.
Oh, well.
--J. R.

Swiss scientists warn of robot Armageddon
The robot that learns by itself
>From Correspondent Patricia Kelly

DAVOS, Switzerland (CNN) -- Could artificially intelligent robots signal the
end of the human race? Some Swiss scientists say such a threat may be closer
than we think.

Their doom and gloom talk was prompted by one of their own creations: an
autonomous robot that learns from its environment.

Within a few minutes, the microprocessor based robot can learn not to bump
into a barrier. No one programs the robot's actions, and its creator isn't
exactly sure how it will behave in any given situation.

Within 10 years, they predict that similar but more advanced machines,
equipped with artificial intelligence, will be as clever as humans. Soon
after, they say, the man-made objects could become more intelligent than their
creators -- and capable of taking over.

"Next century's global politics will be dominated by the question of should
humanity build ultra-intelligent machines or not," said Hugo de Garis, who's
already created an artificially intelligent machine.

"In fact, I'm going so far as saying there will be major warfare between these
two major groups, one saying building machines is the destiny of the human
species, something people should do and the other group saying it's too
dangerous," de Garis said.

Kevin Warwick, a professor of cybernetics -- the science of comparing
biological and computerized brains -- agrees that thinking robots could be

"I can't see any reason why machines will not be more intelligent than humans
in the next 20 to 30 years and that is an enormous threat," Warwick said.

De Garis speculates that the robots might soon tire of their human creators.

"We could never be sure these artellects, as we call them -- artificial
intellects -- wouldn't decide that humanity is a pest and try to exterminate
us, and they'd be so intelligent they could do it easily," de Garis said.

Warwick has even gloomier premonitions.

"We're talking in the future the end of the human race as we know it," Warwick

The day when robots no longer do what we want them to may already be here.

De Garis' machine quickly decided it was camera shy and refused to be filmed
by a CNN crew.

Shy or not, only time will tell if these artificially intelligent machines
will evolve enough to bring about our demise.

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