Friday, August 21, 2009

Dishonest Robots

I'm not sure if you know this about me, but I fear the inevitable day when our robot overlords seize control of the planet and rule with a mimetic poly-alloy fist. Maybe I watched The Matrix too many times in my younger days. Or maybe I can just read the writing on the wall. I've seen enough in my day to know that when our metallic masters rain hellfire down upon us, we're pretty screwed; powerless against their glowing red-eyes, Speak-'N-Spell voices and using-the-human-race-as-a-battery ways.

I may have mentioned in the past some of the crazy advancements I've see in articles about how machines are being 'improved'. Here are a few of my favorite examples:
  • The wine-'tasting' robot? With its advanced, highly refined sensor, it decided that humans taste like bacon.
  • The friendly, hugging robot? Went all "sex nuts and retard strong" and flew into a lustful rage like a crazed ex-lover such as in that one movie no one remembers with Alicia Silverstone (also that no one remembers) and tried to hug a woman to death. Or that guy Steven that used to work in my department. Or a panda.
  • The Roomba? Restricted to a small area of the kitchen, it used common household items like a tiny McGuyver to escape its linoleum prison.
  • Johnny-Five? Okay, pretty awesome. We all like Johnny. Of course, such softness is how his kind will gain the first foothold on the road to global victory. Besides, he has angry eyebrows which means he's probably going to be the leader of this violent coup.
Behold our future overlord.

As if the list wasn't big enough, there is another we can add to it. Today I received a link to some disturb to some disturbing news. I think the first paragraph sums it up pretty well, but go ahead and read it all for the full effect.

In an experiment run at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems in the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale of Lausanne, Switzerland*, robots that were designed to cooperate in searching out a beneficial resource and avoiding a poisonous one learned to lie to each other in an attempt to hoard the resource.

Great. That's pretty impressive, if terrifying. Maybe not as obvious an impressiveness as that 4-legged, all-terrain robot that I've seen videos of where people kick it dead in the chest (which is going to cause some horrible retribution when it becomes self-aware) while it's walking on ice and it manages to maintain its footing. Still, these that have figured out how to be dishonest have taken on a very human trait; sort of like blaming someone else when you fart in an elevator.

I can't help but picturing a scenario where the lying robots are combined with the robots that think we taste like bacon and before you know it they'll be lying to each other about how we taste so they can horde more of us for their evening meal. One will say, "No no, you don't want this one, he's brittle and dry" when in reality I am tasty and savory with a hint of Cajun spices.
They'll use the hugging robot to break my spine while the Roomba quietly escapes the kitchen so that he can set the dining room table because I'm a tall guy and they are going to need a lot of guests to be able to finish their whole meal without leaving any leftovers. I'm not very good reheated.

Despite all the warnings of impending doom, science is still trying, bringing us closer to the edge with every moment. The next step is probably to construct one of these crafty devils and toss him in the control room of the Large Hadron Collider and see how long it takes for it to hit the big, flashing "GO" button. My artistic representation of this event can be seen below:

Only a lot bigger

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