Swiss scientists warn of robot Armageddon

Patricia Kelly - CNN News

February 18, 1998

DAVOS, Switzerland (CNN) -- Could artificially intelligent
robots signal the end of the human race? Some Swiss
scientists say such a threat may be closer than we think.

Their doom and gloom talk was prompted by one of their own
creations: an autonomous robot that learns from its

Within a few minutes, the microprocessor based robot can
learn not to bump into a barrier. No one programs the
robot's actions, and its creator isn't exactly sure how it
will behave in any given situation.

Within 10 years, they predict that similar but more advanced
machines, equipped with artificial intelligence, will be as
clever as humans. Soon after, they say, the man-made objects
could become more intelligent than their creators -- and
capable of taking over.

"Next century's global politics will be dominated by the
question of should humanity build ultra-intelligent machines
or not," said Hugo de Garis, who's already created an
artificially intelligent machine.

"In fact, I'm going so far as saying there will be major
warfare between these two major groups, one saying building
machines is the destiny of the human species, something
people should do and the other group saying it's too
dangerous," de Garis said.

Kevin Warwick, a professor of cybernetics -- the science of
comparing biological and computerized brains -- agrees that
thinking robots could be dangerous.

"I can't see any reason why machines will not be more
intelligent than humans in the next 20 to 30 years and that
is an enormous threat," Warwick said.

De Garis speculates that the robots might soon tire of their
human creators.

"We could never be sure these artellects, as we call them --
artificial intellects -- wouldn't decide that humanity is a
pest and try to exterminate us, and they'd be so intelligent
they could do it easily," de Garis said.

Warwick has even gloomier premonitions.

"We're talking in the future the end of the human race as we
know it," Warwick said.

The day when robots no longer do what we want them to may
already be here.

De Garis' machine quickly decided it was camera shy and
refused to be filmed by a CNN crew.

Shy or not, only time will tell if these artificially
intelligent machines will evolve enough to bring about our

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