A video of the new Spot Mini robot from Boston Dynamics is striking fear in the minds of those who understand how quickly the latest and greatest inventions can turn into our worst nightmares. In the video, the robot can be seen standing in front of a door. Around 12 seconds later, another Spot Mini known as the Big Dog comes around the corner, sporting a robotic claw on its head. The first Spot Mini moves backward, allowing the robotic dog enough space to open the door so the Spot Mini can enter the next room.
While the video does not give a lot of information about the robot’s latest capabilities, an advanced autonomous control system appears to be involved. Even those outlets that are normally enthusiastic about technology are having some reservations about this. For example, TechCrunch’s Brian Heater said: “If the company managed to program Spot Mini to actually open the door on its own in order to help free its friend, well, perhaps it’s time to be concerned.”
Observers quickly took to social media to lament the impending demise of humanity, making comments such as “Our robot overlords can now hunt us in packs” (Twitter user Michael Stackpole) and “Boston Dynamics is going to be the end of us all, and the last remaining humans will be wondering how we didn’t see it coming.” (Twitter user Nick Wright).
Futurist Ian Pearson recently told CNBC that artificial intelligence could ultimately become “billions of times smarter” than people and that humans might need to merge with computers if they want to survive, echoing ideas espoused by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Pearson warned that humans will need “some means of keeping up” to survive in a panel at the World Government Summit in Dubai.
According to Pearson, who works at Futurizon, humans could protect themselves against the machines by linking their brains with artificial intelligence in order to have the same IQ.
Elon Musk has called AI our “biggest existential threat” and said developing it is like “summoning the demon.” In fact, Musk envisions super intelligent machines using human beings as pets. He has stated that AI presents a greater threat to humanity than North Korea and believes that, like other things that are potential dangers to the public such as drugs and food, AI should be regulated to prevent machines from advancing beyond the control of humans.
DeepMind’s Shane Legg said in an interview that he believes technology will play a part in human extinction and called AI the “number-one risk for this century.”
The U.N. has been voicing concerns about the possibility of “killer robots” being programmed to fire on anyone with no need to be directly controlled by humans. The U.N.’s high representative for universal weapons disarmament Angela Kane said in 2014 that, like self-driving cars, it’s likely that weapons that do not need human intervention are either already here or just around the corner, and their inability to distinguish the realities on the battlefield makes them very dangerous. Drones are already killing innocent noncombatants, and this takes the concept even further.
The problem may not be confined to just the battlefield, of course. There is no telling how much destruction AI could bring about, which is why some people believe that humans should be investing their time now in acquiring the skills and tools needed to defend themselves against robots should the need arise.
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