The regular use of unmanned Predator drones to do our bombing and robots developed to increasingly resemble human traits might have some dangerous implications if left unchecked. With the rush of advancements in artificial intelligence, scientists worry that we may be approaching, faster than we realize, the point at which robots begin to operate without human direction. And while robots have accidentally killed humans before, if one of our weaponized robots were to become autonomous, the results could be disastrous.
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Since robots can be created to do just about anything harder, better, faster, and stronger than a human, there might be reason to fear the worst, just in case. The end result of the conference was to try and set up a series of guidelines that would help shape future research in hopes of preventing the most dire predictions. Whether or not these guidelines will simply be a variation on Asimov’s Three Laws will be seen once the findings are published later this year. Let’s just hope it’s not too late.
The committee discussed not only robots’ impact on the lives of humans, but also their potential effect on the planet. Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, has previously expressed the concern, “An immediate consequence of obtaining the great power of nanotechnology is that we run a grave risk that we might destroy the biosphere on which all life depends.”
However, not everyone was all gloom and doom. Raymond Kurzweil, a noted futurist, is well known to have a rosier view of integrated technology. While not in attendance, Kurzweil is known to extol the belief that robots and other technology will vastly improve and extend our lives.
Faster, Robot! Kill! Kill!
Volvo Group’s new military vehicle can drive sideways, like a crab
You probably haven’t heard of Arquus, a French defense and security vehicle firm, but you likely do know the company that owns it: Sweden’s Volvo Group. And from this subdivision of Volvo comes a new, light army vehicle: it’s called Scarabée, which is French for “beetle.”
The secret to moving this ancient sphinx? Hoverboards
“I can safely say that I did not really sleep the night before,” says Bob Thurlow, the Penn Museum’s project manager.
Thurlow and his team spent months mapping out the exact path of the sphinx’s relocation and anticipating every possible moving day scenario. The first step was a feasibility study, to see if transportation was even possible. “The sphinx came into the building through a hole in the wall,” Thurlow says. But that wall closed up long ago, as the expanding museum added new buildings to its densely-packed campus. Fortunately, they were able to identify a clear, albeit narrow, passage that would allow the sphinx to slip through with just 1 or 2 inches on each side.