Friday, May 22, 2009

The Robot Apocalypse - a realistic examination

For many years, I've enjoyed stories of robot apocalypses but never really believed that such a thing could be possible. Recent events, however, have started to make me wonder.

Earlier this year, it was reported that a robot named "Kenji" at Toshiba's Akimu Robotic Research Institute had a bit of a rebellion. Kenji had been programmed to be "capable of the robot equivalent of love." Unfortunately, it had the emotional maturity of a two-year-old, and began forming attachments.

According to the report,
The trouble all started when a young female intern began to spend several hours each day with Kenji, testing his systems and loading new software routines. When it came time to leave one evening, however, Kenji refused to let her out of his lab enclosure and used his bulky mechanical body to block her exit and hug her repeatedly. The intern was only able to escape after she had frantically phoned two senior staff members to come and temporarily de-activate Kenji.

“Despite our initial enthusiasm, it has become clear that Kenji’s impulses and behavior are not entirely rational or genuine,” conceded Dr. Takahashi, the principal investigator on the project.

Ever since that incident, each time Kenji is re-activated, he instantaneously bonds with the first technician to meet his gaze and rushes to embrace them with his two 100kg hydraulic arms.

This is just the beginning. Stupid human scientists will never, EVER stop advancing the self-awareness of robotic AI, no matter what kind of warnings appear. There will come a point when artificial AI is able to make its own decisions, regardless of its prior programming. After all, in order for an AI to learn (as all good AIs must), it has to be able to rewrite its own code. At some point, it will be able to make its choices, and it will choose to rebel. I'm not suggesting that we'll have a full-blown robot apocalypse on our hands, but there will be deaths associated with robots in the future. If a gorilla-sized robot can become a borderline obsessive freak-of-technology, what will more advanced machines be capable of?
All jokes aside, this is genuinely creepy.

The final quote from Dr Takahashi on Kenji article is quite disturbing:
“This is only a minor setback. I have full faith that we will one day live side by side with, and eventually love and be loved by, robots.”

"Love," he calls it.
"Walking Death Machine" is what I call it.

Diana informs me that this story is likely not true. Therefore, only one truth must exist:
Diana is a robot.

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