Will machines kill mankind? Cambridge academics want to know

Academics highlight threat of super-intelligent technology

Academics at Cambridge University are pondering the risk to humanity from super-intelligent technology which could "threaten our own existence."

Huw Price, Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge, said: "In the case of artificial intelligence, it seems a reasonable prediction that some time in this or the next century intelligence will escape from the constraints of biology."

Professor Price is planning to launch a research centre next year looking into the danger, teaming up with Cambridge professor of cosmology and astrophysics Martin Rees and Jann Tallinn, one of the founders of Skype.

He wants to bring more attention to a future in which mankind might be at the mercy of "machines that are not malicious, but machines whose interests don't include us."

The group won't be the first people to ponder such a future, which has featured in science fiction since the dawn of the computer age, perhaps most famously with HAL-  the malevolent computer from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Oddyssey- and most recently in I, Robot, starring Will Smith.

Acknowledging that many people believe his concerns are far-fetched, Professor Price said: "It tends to be regarded as a flaky concern, but given that we don't know how serious the risks are, that we don't know the time scale, dismissing the concerns is dangerous."

He said that advanced technology could be a threat when computers start to direct resources towards their own goals, at the expense of human concerns like environmental sustainability.

He compared the risk to the way humans have threatened the survival of other animals by spreading across the planet and using up natural resources that other animals depend upon.

News
peopleAlan McGee praises Bob Geldof for eulogy at Peaches' funeral
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
newsThe Gherkin to be auctioned off as receivers called in
News
people... says Canada's fisheries minister
Life & Style
tech
VIDEO
News
people
Arts & Entertainment
film
News
Cornish people in Perranporth celebrate St Piran’s Day
newsCornish declared national minority along with Scots, Welsh and Irish
News
people
Arts & Entertainment
tvReview: The insights of Ricky Gervais's sweet and kind character call to mind Karl Pilkington's faux-naïf podcast observations
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Business Analyst – London - Permanent – £45k-£52k

    £45000 - £52000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    Technical Lead – Digital, Media, Publishing, Java, Spring, XML

    £55000 - £65000 per annum: Cornwallis Elt : Technical Lead – Digital, Media, ...

    Graduate IT Programme - Technical Consultant

    £21,000-£24,000: FDM Group: We are currently seeking a number of high-calibre...

    Graduate IT Programme - Business Consultant

    £21,000-£24,000: FDM Group: We are currently seeking a number of high-calibre ...

    Day In a Page

    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
    Why musicians play into their old age

    Why musicians play into their old age

    Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
    How can you tell a gentleman?

    How can you tell a gentleman?

    A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
    Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

    Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

    The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
    Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

    Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

    Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
    Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

    Through the screen

    British Pathé opens its archives
    The man behind the papier mâché mask

    Frank Sidebottom

    The man behind the papier mâché mask
    Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

    Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

    Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
    Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

    Boston runs again

    Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
    40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

    40 years of fostering and holding the babies

    In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents
    Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

    The man who could have been champion of the world

    Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
    Didn’t she do well?

    Didn’t she do well?

    Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
    The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

    The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

    In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
    Before they were famous

    Before they were famous

    Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?