Become Cyborgs or House Pets?

The pursuit of technology without a moral compass always results in evil. History is full of examples of what seemed to be good ideas that turned out to be disasters.

The latest case involves the quest to develop intelligent robots. While it was a novelty to have a robot vacuum floors, what developers now have in mind is truly scary.

The most alarming is a report issued last month by the United Nations claiming that terrorists are working to build armies of artificially intelligent killer robots capable of slaughtering vast numbers of innocent civilians.

Experts from dozens of countries met earlier this year in Geneva to consider the grim implications of “Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems” (LAWS) which are robotic weapons capable of killing without a human at the controls.

According to England’s Sun newspaper, the report said: “Terrorists are in fact actively seeking such systems.”

The report continued: “Due to the inherent dual-use character of many robotic technologies, many systems originally intended for civilian purposes could easily be modified to serve military functions.”

Also last month, scientists at the University of Zurich in Switzerland announced they have created a robot that’s capable of identifying and chasing prey the same as a tiger or lion.

While it initially only targeted another robot, observers expressed concerns that they could be programed to hunt humans.

Billionaire Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has an expanded concern claiming that humans need to become cyborgs (persons whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical or technological elements built into the body) in order to avoid becoming house cats for vastly more intelligent robots.

Musk says that as artificial intelligence (AI) advances, people will need to augment their brain power with digital technology to prevent becoming irrelevant.

He also called AI the greatest threat to human life.

Speaking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Musk said: “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon.”

GRTL President Ricardo Davis agrees. “Anytime we attempt to fundamentally alter God’s creation, we’re dancing with the devil.”

To meet the challenge, Musk has endorsed the idea of creating “neural lace”—a man-made electronic layer attached to the brain that would allow humans to instantly access internet information to greatly improve cognitive powers by tapping into AI.

Also called “mesh electronics,” it’s an ultra-fine mesh that would create a seamless and wireless interface between a person’s brain and a computer. The device is so thin and supple it can be injected with a needle.

Scientists have already tested the process on mice, which have survived the implantation.

Stephen Hawking, the English theoretical physicist, has echoed Musk’s concerns. He and Musk joined 150 scientists who last year wrote an open letter warning of the dangers of AI and calling for limits on its use, especially hi-tech robotic weapons systems.

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” Hawking has said. “It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate.”

One such creation has already taken off on its own--twice. On June 16, the Russian robot Promobot IR77 fled into the streets of the Russian city of Perm when an engineer left a gate open.

The robot got 150 feet from the building before running out of power. It slowed cars to a halt and puzzled traffic cops.

According to the Washington Post report, the robot’s co-founder Oleg Kivokurtsev said: “The robot was learning automatic algorithms on the testing ground.”

Despite several rewrites of the robot’s AI, it continued to move toward the exits. Since the alterations failed, Kivokurtsev told England’s Mirror: “So now I think we might have to dismantle it.”

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, was quoted in The Observer, saying: “First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that, though, the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern.”

Gate’s former firm recently had a taste of runaway AI. Earlier this year, Microsoft launched “Tay,” a teen-talking AI “Chabot” built to mimic and converse with users in real time.

Because of its learning ability, it didn’t take long for Tay to pick up and repeat racist, sexist and generally disgusting things.

It was taken off line, revised and launched again. However, it quickly reverted to its previous behavior and was removed for the second time. Not to be deterred, the company is expected to introduce the program after it cleans up its act.

Last month, the Obama Administration announced the formation of a Subcommittee on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, which will monitor advances and milestones of AI development for the National Science and Technology Council.

“We need more than bureaucrats to prevent disasters,” GRTL's Davis said. “It is essential for the pro-life community to work together to ensure that human life as we know it is protected. Only serious prayer, vigilant scrutiny and the involvement of people with a sanctity of life ethic will help us avoid a nightmare beyond imagination.”


By Wayne DuBois
Georgia Right to Life
Media Relations Advisor