Are All Our Ma­chines Po­ten­tial Ter­mi­na­tors?

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Ro­bots con­spir­ing with each other to wipe out — or at least con­trol — the hu­man race is the stuff of block­busters. Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger made a for­tune, af­ter all, per­son­i­fy­ing the amor­phous fear in many minds about the po­ten­tial dan­ger of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. The no­tion of be­nign home ap­pli­ances chat­ting with each other to “help” their own­ers cer­tainly does not fill all hu­mans with bound­less grat­i­tude. And the prospect of a ma­chine-man­aged life even­tu­ally spi­ralling out of hu­man con­trol would not seem at all un­likely to the av­er­age techno­phobe. Nor does sci­en­tists air­ily pooh­poohing the idea of their cre­ations de­vel­op­ing a mind of their own — quite lit­er­ally — al­lay fears as long as Franken­stein’s mon­ster re­mains a favourite trope. So Face­book team deny­ing that its bots had to be shut down be­cause they had de­vel­oped their own lan­guage that sounded like gib­ber­ish to their hu­man ‘bosses’, seemed eer­ily part like any Ter­mi­na­tor or Per­son of In­ter­est script. Doom­say­ers can also be for­given for con­jec­tur­ing that these bots — and oth­ers — may in­stead be still ‘talk­ing’ and plot­ting even as their “cre­ators” loftily de­cry the idea of ever be­ing out­wit­ted by mere ma­chines. They would be chuck­ling in par­tic­u­lar at the supreme ar­ro­gance of flesh-and-blood mor­tals deem­ing their in­tel­li­gence to be “ar­ti­fi­cial”.

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