Robots of the future could kill off humans unless they're taught the value of human life, Amsterdam-based engineer Nell Watson says, warning that their artificial intelligence could lead them to conclude that the best thing for the human race would be to end its suffering.
"The most important work of our lifetime is to ensure that machines are capable of understanding human values," said Watson at the 2014 Conference by Media Evolution in Sweden earlier this month, reports The Daily Mail
. "It is those values that will ensure machines don't end up killing us out of kindness."
Computer chips may soon have the brain power of a bumblebee, Watson says, which would allow them to analyze social situations.
"Machines are going to be aware of the environments around them and, to a small extent, they're going to be aware of themselves," said Watson, who is the chief executive for the body scanning firm Poikos.
"We're starting to understand the secrets of the human brain," she said. "It's going to create a huge change in our society all around the world."
But Watson doesn't believe a robot uprising would be all bad, as machines can help humans understand themselves. But still, she wondered if robots with high levels of artificial intelligence will be friendly or unfriendly.
Her warnings come after those made this month by Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk
, who believes artificial intelligence will one day be more powerful than nuclear weapons.
"Hope we're not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence," said Musk. "Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable."
He invests in AI companies to keep track of the technology so it won't get out of hand, and in March, he, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and actor Ashton Kutcher invested in AI group Vicarious, which is building a program that mimics the brain's neocortex.
That part of the brain controls spatial reasoning, conscious thought, language, and sensory perception.
Like Watson, professor Stephen Hawking says technology is learning to think for itself, creating an uncertain future for humanity.
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