Cambridge University to Study the Possible Threats of Artificial Intelligence

By Catherine Groux
Posted November 26, 2012 02:00 PM

A British university plans to study possible threats to humanity from artifical intelegince (AI).
A British university plans to study possible threats to humanity from artifical intelegince (AI).
People who watch Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Terminator" movies might think it's insane to believe advanced computers and robots could take over the planet.  But Cambridge University scientists do not think it's so far-fetched; the British institution is planning to open a Center for the Study of Existential Risk, unofficially dubbed the center for "Terminator studies," Fox News reports.

At the center, experts from disciplines like philosophy, biology, robotics and economics will come together to discuss possible threats that artificial intelligence (AI) poses to humanity.

"Our goal is to steer a small fraction of Cambridge's great intellectual resources, and of the reputation built on its past and present scientific pre-eminence, to the task of ensuring that our own species has a long-term future," the center's website states. "In the process, we hope to make it a little more certain that we humans will be around to celebrate the university's own millennium, now less than two centuries hence."

The center was founded by Jaan Tallinn, the co-founder of Skype, Martin Rees, a professor of cosmology and astrophysics, and Huw Prince, a professor of philosophy.

"We have machines that have trumped human performance in chess, flying, driving, financial trading and face, speech and handwriting recognition," Professor Price told Fox News. "The concern is that by creating artificially intelligent machines we risk yielding control over the planet to intelligences that are simply indifferent to us and to things we consider valuable."

Professor Rees holds a similar opinion, which he outlined in his 2003 book Our Final Hour.  Though most scientists and engineers are skeptical of his outlook, Rees states in his work that humanity has a 50% chance of surviving to the year 2100, largely due to the imposing threat of modern technology.

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