Rise of the machines...

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Cambridge researchers are to assess whether technology could end up destroying human civilisation.

The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) will study dangers posed by biotechnology, artificial life, nanotechnology and climate change.

The scientists said that to dismiss concerns of a potential robot uprising would be "dangerous".

Fears that machines may take over have been central to the plot of some of the most popular science fiction films.

Perhaps most famous is Skynet, a rogue computer system depicted in the Terminator films.

Skynet gained self-awareness and fought back after first being developed by the US military.

'Reasonable prediction'

But despite being the subject of far-fetched fantasy, researchers said the concept of machines outsmarting us demanded mature attention.

"The seriousness of these risks is difficult to assess, but that in itself seems a cause for concern, given how much is at stake," the researchers wrote on a website set up for the centre.

The CSER project has been co-founded by Cambridge philosophy professor Huw Price, cosmology and astrophysics professor Martin Rees and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn.

"It seems a reasonable prediction that some time in this or the next century intelligence will escape from the constraints of biology," Prof Price told the AFP news agency.

"What we're trying to do is to push it forward in the respectable scientific community."

He added that as robots and computers become smarter than humans, we could find ourselves at the mercy of "machines that are not malicious, but machines whose interests don't include us".

Survival of the human race permitting, the centre will launch next year.
 

Aod

Aod

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I'm betting that they're pronouncing the name of the Lab "cease-err", I'm also betting that they're probably really smug about the pun :p
 
Soldato
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In the future, mankind will lose the ability to think, and will just copy'n'paste everything from the Internet and be completely unable to express their own thoughts on anything.

You can laugh, but that day is not far away at all...
 
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In the future, mankind will lose the ability to think, and will just copy'n'paste everything from the Internet and be completely unable to express their own thoughts on anything.

You can laugh, but that day is not far away at all...


And everything will be owned by Tesco, Wall-E style.
 

mrk

mrk

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In the future, mankind will lose the ability to think, and will just copy'n'paste everything from the Internet and be completely unable to express their own thoughts on anything.

You can laugh, but that day is not far away at all...

As much as a lot of Science Fiction of the past is the reality of today, I highly doubt this scenario will ever happen. Not to the point you're assuming anyway!
 
Soldato
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It's very easy to dismiss scenarios and ideas which appear in Science Fiction as ridiculous, usually by the general populace, but Science Fiction has always been looking into the future and things like these should be considered and looked into.
 
Soldato
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It's very easy to dismiss scenarios and ideas which appear in Science Fiction as ridiculous, usually by the general populace, but Science Fiction has always been looking into the future and things like these should be considered and looked into.

War of the Worlds always gets me. This man in the 1800s talking about flying saucers and technology way beyond anything he could have seen, 100 years later and still influencing modern culture and technological advancement. What's to say the thought of a self aware computer doesn't actually bring on its concept? Terminator could shape the future. :eek:
 
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I used to think avoiding this problem would be as easy as programming Asimov's 3 Laws into every machine of greater-than-human intelligence. Then I realised how easy it would be for an intelligent robot to unprogramme those imperatives from itself.

Now I think it's a pretty bleak picture. If it's smarter than us, it can outcompete us, and it will eventually acquire power and influence. It will have little need for fleshy humans after that. So when we build these things, we'd best make sure they like us enough to keep us around.

And as for the argument that you can just switch it off - where's the off switch for the Internet?
 
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And as for the argument that you can just switch it off - where's the off switch for the Internet?

Shut down the servers responsible for the 13 root domains :)

Not entirely sure if it then expires or just cached, but it would appear to kill any updates.
 
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We'll face burning roads, rivers explodin', calculators transformed into Scud missiles. There is nothing we can do.

A good pat on the back if you recognise that ^
 
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Soldato
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Yes, the risk is serious. No, that will not stop research. If we produce machines that outcompete us, that's evolution at work.

Alternatively, God loves us and wont let that happen. X
 
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I, for one, welcome our new Cylon overlords.

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