" I’m an engineer who builds robots; I don’t know why people would be interested in my views on the ethical question "
[..] soon the company started to work with Sony on its Aibo robot dog, developing a control system that allowed it to run. After that, it continued in the same vein, with a tool for Sony’s Qrio humanoid robot, allowing choreographers to design dance routines.
"It's no longer a flight of fantasy, it's something that people should start taking seriously. But at the same time, it's not too late. Had we waited until we started seeing these enter battlefields worldwide, we think that it would be much harder to get this sort of dialogue going and realistically have a chance of stopping this technology from proliferating,"
Ray Kurzweil popularised the Teminator-like moment he called the 'singularity', when artificial intelligence overtakes human thinking. But now the man who hopes to be immortal is involved in the very same quest – on behalf of the tech behemoth.
Although possibly this is what Kurzweil's critics, such as the biologist PZ Myers, mean when they say that the problem with Kurzweil's theories is that "it's a very bizarre mixture of ideas that are solid and good with ideas that are crazy. It's as if you took a lot of very good food and some dog excrement and blended it all up so that you can't possibly figure out what's good or bad." Or Jaron Lanier, who calls him "a genius" but "a product of a narcissistic age".
As Ray Kurzweil speaks to the Observer New Review about the impending advances in artificial intelligence, it seems a good time to heed the warning of such screen classics as Alien, The Terminator and Blade Runner and look back at the rogue computers, robots and replicants that have brought death, disquiet and destruction to humankind. Enjoy, before it's too late
The United States and other developed countries are in the midst of a digital revolution that may be even more profound than the industrial revolutions of the past. Advances in robotics, cognitive computing and other digital technologies promise untold benefits in a world of leisure hard to imagine. But there is also a dark side to this technological change. It could lead to joblessness for most and extreme inequality, threatening economic health and political stability.
Tension over rising inequality and a lack of good-paying middle class jobs is growing in Silicon Valley and nearby San Francisco, the epicentre of computerisation and the information economy. In San Francisco, buses for Google, Facebook and other companies ferry high-paid tech workers to their jobs in Silicon Valley. This allows tens of thousands to live in the city, fuelling popular anger over gentrification and high housing prices that are pushing longtime residents out.
For decades, Hollywood has supplied us with plenty of reasons to be frightened about the roboticization of warfare. But now that drones and autonomous antimissile defense systems have been deployed, and many other forms of robotic weaponry are under development, the inflection point where it must be decided whether to go down this road has arrived.
Agri-Mark, a 1,200-dairy cooperative in New England that had $1.1 billion of sales last year, started pouring skim milk last month into holes used for livestock manure. It was the first time in five decades, and farmers so far have unloaded 12 truckloads, or 600,000 pounds (272 metric tons). While having small amounts of milk spoil or go unsold isn’t unusual, Northeast dairies dumped 31 percent more this year through May than the same period of 2014, government data show.
The news that Google has purchased a company that makes running robots for the military has prompted the more nervous to see parallels with sci-fi movies such as The Terminator, with its dystopian vision of a world run by remorseless robots with self-conscious intelligence.
Darpa has become one of the biggest backers of robotics research. Yet autonomous robots bring their own powerful ethical dilemmas. If machines are given guns, it opens profound moral and legal questions about war ..
“As a colleague of mine likes to say, robots are assholes,”.
Researchers also argue that the more dystopian predictions about machines and war underestimate the affinity between humans and robots.
Saying “no one wants to create a Terminator” is not an argument; it’s more like saying “no one wants to get cancer.” Yet just as one can reduce the chance of getting cancer by living a healthy lifestyle, not smoking, and eating well, one can mitigate the chances of creating weaponized and intelligent systems by preventing an AI arms race between powerful countries with large militaries, and by taking a public stand about how many decisions are delegated to machines.