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Futurists' Report Acknowledges Dangers of Smart Robots

By Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)

November 6, 2009

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A forthcoming report from the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) will explore whether robots could eventually become so intelligent that they pose a threat to society. Although some researchers are concerned about the legal and ethical use of artificial intelligence, most computer scientists do not believe the radical view that robots could come to dominate the future, says Microsoft researcher Eric Horvitz, who united the group to write the report.

However, some researchers believe intelligent machines could threaten humanity, while others are concerned about what people may do with computers based on artificial intelligence. Horvitz says there is still plenty of time to address these concerns as the technology advances.

The report marks the first time that AAAI scientists have come together to discuss artificial intelligence's potential positive and negative impacts on society, Horvitz says. Carnegie Mellon University professor Tom Mitchell says the real danger is the prospect of computer viruses becoming intelligent. Mitchell says an intelligent virus with speech-recognition abilities could be hidden in someone's electronic device and eavesdrop on conversations.

Toyota Technical Institute at Chicago professor David McAllester believes it is inevitable that fully automated intelligent machines will be able to design and build smarter, better versions of themselves, an event known as the Singularity. The Singularity would enable machines to become infinitely intelligent, and would pose an "incredibly dangerous scenario," he says. The report also focuses on ethical and legal issues that are likely to arise as robots become more ingrained in society.

From Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)
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