Web

Robot uprising? Cambridge University team to assess threat posed by AI

robot uprising cambridge university tea to assess threat posed by ai armyIf you thought the idea of robots taking over the world and ultimately wiping us out was merely the preserve of far-fetched sci-fi movies, think again.

A team of researchers at Cambridge University is making plans to open the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, where it will assess the threat to human civilization posed by the likes of artificial intelligence, climate change, nuclear war and rogue biotechnology.

According to a BBC report, the team behind the Project for Existential Risk – comprising Cambridge philosophy professor Huw Price, cosmology and astrophysics professor Martin Rees and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn – claim it would be “dangerous” to scoff at talk of a potential robot uprising.

Speaking to the BBC about the project, Tallinn explained that the purpose of the center is to put more thinking into what it calls existential risks. “Existential risks are potential dangers that we might face as a species, things that might kill us as a species, or at least permanently curtail our potential,” he said.

So it’s not just robots that might finish us off.

‘Extinction-level risks’

“Many scientists are concerned that developments in human technology may soon pose new, extinction-level risks to our species as a whole,” the team explains on its website. “Such dangers have been suggested from progress in AI, from developments in biotechnology and artificial life, from nanotechnology, and from possible extreme effects of anthropogenic climate change. The seriousness of these risks is difficult to assess, but that in itself seems a cause for concern, given how much is at stake.”

Getting back to AI, Tallinn talked about the Frankenstein scenario of a planet overrun by technology with a mind of its own. “If you’re creating something that is potentially smarter than you, you might have the problem of control – like how do you control something that is smarter than you and potentially, for example, able to design its own technology,” he said.

He went on to say he believes the chance of the human race being wiped out by something we’re responsible for is higher than people generally acknowledge, although it’s hard to properly assess because “the bar of uncertainty is very high,” adding, “We really should be careful about these things and be prepared.”

The center, which plans to open in 2013, will draw on the intellectual resources of the prestigious university to study the potential threats, and in doing so help “make it a little more certain that we humans will be around to celebrate the University’s own millennium” in 2209, the teams says on its website.

[Image: Kjpargeter / Shutterstock]

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Gaming

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Mobile

Apple Maps boosts Flyover locations, indoor mall maps, and more

In a boost for Apple Maps, the tech company has recently added more than 50 new locations for Flyover, the feature that offers spectacular 3D photo views of particular cities and famous landmarks around the world.
Mobile

Google has found a clever way to make your search history more useful

Google has found a clever way to make more use of your search history by showing links to pages you've visited before. Ideal for repeat searches for the same page, the links show up on cards at the top of mobile search results.
Smart Home

Booth babes, banned sex toys, and other mishaps at CES 2019

From female sex toys bans, to fake Tesla/robot collision stories, there was some weird stuff going on at CES 2019 this year. Here are some of the biggest mishaps and flubs at the world's biggest tech show.
Web

Shutdown makes dozens of .gov websites insecure due to expired TLS certificates

The US government shutdown is causing trouble in internet security. As the shutdown enters day 22, dozens of government websites have been rendered insecure or inaccessible due to expired transport layer security (TLS) certificates.
Computing

Our favorite Chrome themes add some much-needed pizzazz to your boring browser

Sometimes you just want Chrome to show a little personality and ditch the grayscale for something a little more lively. Lucky for you, we've sorted through the Chrome Web Store to find best Chrome themes available.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.
Business

Cathay Pacific messes up first-class ticket prices — again

A couple of weeks ago, an error on Cathay Pacific's website resulted in first-class seats selling for a tenth of the price. On Sunday, January 13, the airline made the error again. The good news is that it'll honor the bookings.
Computing

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Computing

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.