It’s so much a part of the sci-fi landscape, it’s almost become a cliché. It’s seen in movies from The Terminator to The Matrix to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Of course, I am talking about the rise of artificial intelligence and the threat of the robot apocalypse (not to be confused with the zombie apocalypse. There is little intelligence there, artificial or otherwise). But luckily, visionaries other than Cameron and Kubrick are turning their attention to this serious future problem. That’s right, a group of influential scientists at no less prestigious a university than Cambridge are turning their attention to study this disaster waiting to happen.
A group consisting of Huw Price, philosophy professor, and Martin Reess, a professor of cosmology and astrophysics, joined by Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype, will tackle this issue. They are founding the Cambridge Project for Existential Risk, which will look at whether advanced technology, like artificial intelligence, is really a threat to life on earth (spoiler alert: it is).
"Many scientists are concerned that developments in human technology may soon pose new, extinction-level risks to our species as a whole. Such dangers have been suggested from progress in AI, from developments in biotechnology and artificial life, from nanotechnology, and from possible extreme effects of anthropogenic climate change," the organization posted on their website. "The seriousness of these risks is difficult to assess, but that in itself seems a cause for concern, given how much is at stake.”
This announcement comes on the heels of reports by human rights groups cautioning governments from developing advanced military robots. This, of course, means that, when the robot apocalypse does come, at least there are some of us who can choke out an “I told you so!” before we are consumed as an energy source for our mechanical overlords.
Edited by Rich Steeves