NYT: "Smart robots make strides, but there's no need to flee just yet"

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In assessing AI anxiety, the New York Times offers "reassuring views from computer scientists who sense that the end is not nigh" because "machines are not nearly as clever, or necessarily as pernicious, as the fretters believe."

CSAIL researchers Daniela Rus, Russ Tedrake and Patrick Winston are part of a a new NYT documentary assessing the progress of artificial intelligence, as well as its continued challenges. 

 

 

From NYT: 

Jitters over humanity’s falling victim to various creations are as old Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein monster and the Golem of Jewish tradition. Hostile robots have been on the scene since at least the 1920s with the play “R.U.R.,” by the Czech writer Karel Capek. The initials stood for “Rossum’s Universal Robots.” Indeed, this work introduced “robot” into the language. Since then, run-amok machines have been a science-fiction staple in books and films like “Colossus: The Forbin Project,” “I, Robot,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Transcendence,” “Ex Machina” and the seemingly inexhaustible supply of “Terminator” movies. One sure bet about those films is that, like the Terminator itself, they’ll be back.

On occasion, machines are cast as a benign presence, as in the 2013 film “Her,” in which a man finds intimacy with an operating system that is guided by artificial intelligence (not to mention made alluring by the voice of Scarlett Johansson). In Japan, some people have closely bonded with robot dogs, to the point of holding funerals for automated pooches that cease to function.

More typically, though, the machines — robots, cyborgs, androids, clones — are depicted as threats to human survival. As Retro Report recalls, fear of them in real life grew in 1997 when a chess-playing IBM computer, Deep Blue, defeated the world champion, Garry Kasparov. Apprehension deepened for some in 2011 when two stars of the quiz show “Jeopardy!” were soundly defeated by a new IBM gizmo. This week, artificial intelligence will again challenge the human brain as Google’s DeepMind competes in South Korea against a champion in Go, the Chinese board game with trillions of possible moves.