Be Afraid, Say Robot Experts: Unstoppable Machines Are Coming
March 13, 2012
A panel of robotics experts at the South by Southwest conference couldn’t reach a consensus Tuesday on whether machines would soon take over the Earth. But they agreed that the advances in artificial intelligence are well-nigh unstoppable. In fact, they said, machines are already demonstrating the ability to learn and to solve problems that humans couldn’t.
The discussion was seasoned with more than a dash of whimsy, and like much of what goes on at South by Southwest, it was closer to a brainstorming session than an academic presentation. Nevertheless, the speakers offered enough anecdotal evidence to make their visions of the future compelling, if not necessarily prescient.
Two of the three — Daniel Wilson and William Hertling — are authors of novels about apocalyptic conflicts between machines and humans, so their comments need to be taken with a grain of salt. The third — Chris Robson, founder of the data analysis firm Parametric Marketing — wasn’t promoting any books, just an (ahem) unconventional point of view about the nature of human consciousness.