Should humanity become extinct in the immediate future, it won’t be by our own hands or through the wrath of nature. A number of experts has claimed that our demise shall be brought on by super-strong robots. What was once created to make our lives easier could very well “threaten our existence” in the span of a few years.
This grim warning comes from the experts featured in the two-episode documentary series “Hyper Evolution: Rise of the Robots”. Presented by teaching fellow at Anglia Ruskin University and evolutionary biologist Dr. Ben Garrod and University of Manchester electronics engineer Danielle George, the documentary aims to the answer the question whether or not automation could one day become our greatest enemy. Though according to Garrod himself, that could very well be the case.
“What concerns me is that the impact of robots will be so monumental, they could threaten humanity,” Garrod told DailyMail.co.uk. “We’ve evolved over hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years. These things are just bulldozing their way through. At what point have we got to stop? They’re like an invasive species.”
Garrod added that their classification as an “invasive species” was further bolstered by their increasing ability to make conscious decisions. “In the next few years, physically at least, they will be able to out-compete us in many of the things that we can do. But for me, the real problem isn’t if they move like us or even look like us. The real issue will come if they start to think like us,” he stated.
Many of the robots featured on the program hint towards this.
One such robot is Erica, who has been described as “the most beautiful and most human-like autonomous humanoid android in this world” by her “father”, Hiroshi Ishiguro. The robotics expert has gone on record to state that he aims to create a robot that can think and act independently. Erica is a move towards that direction. Though Erica is unable to move her arms and legs, she can answer questions about her ideal partner, tell jokes, and even sidestep around queries about her age. Ishiguro and Dylan F. Glas, Erica’s co-creator, hope to someday release Erica into out into the world and human society.
It’s no wonder then that Garrod isn’t alone in his opinions.
“The whole of our society, our law, our education, is based around consciousness, making conscious decisions, and if we show that actually that’s quite trivial and we reproduce it in an afternoon in a lab, then it could make you think ‘Well, how important is human life? Because it is conscious’,” said professor of cognitive robotics Owen Holland. “Ultimately the rewards will be positive but you have to be very, very careful. Socially it might be disruptive.”
Others have put out suggested measures to prevent the robotic takeover from becoming a reality. Just recently, experts hailing from the University of Oxford proposed equipping robots with recorders not unlike the black boxes on aircraft. These recorders would then capture the robots’ behaviors so that, in the event of a malfunction or an accident, the recorders would provide analysts with the information they need to determine what went wrong.
Although such a feature may cause robot-related accidents to dip in prevalence, it won’t exactly prevent automation from inflicting harm upon humans, whether unexpectedly or on purpose, experts said.(Related: First fatality of the robot apocalypse? Robot grabs factory worker and crushes him to death)
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