The Seven Technologies That Make the Robot Apocalypse Inevitable
Lately, pop culture has been obsessed with the walking dead. But there are far more common dangers to worry about. We refer, of course, to the inevitable robot uprising. Even worse, we're giving them all the tools they need to both decide they've had enough, and to do something permanent about it.
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By Dan Seitz
7. Combining Bugs and Robots
Bugs have lots of advantages, developed over time to help them succeed in their environments. Unfortunately, that also means they have teeny, simple brains. This means that if somebody wants to remove that teeny simple brain, or just strap you into a teeny virtual reality rig, like Chauncey Graetzel at ETH Zurich did, presumably on a bet, they can.
Cockroaches are being made into spies for now, but come on, this is the military; they want to arm these things so much they can taste it. So basically eventually we'll be handing bugs, who not unreasonably dislike the entire human race, a new brain, which also will hate the human race, and then we'll give that one-two punch a gun.
Oh, yeah. This will end well.
6. Feeling Shame and Fear
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Presumably Dr. Lola Canamero of the University of Hertfordshire didn't mean to make your Roomba cry. She just wanted to give robots empathy so they could interact better with humans. The problem is that this teaches them emotions like, say, shame, or fear. And as we all learned from a great philosopher, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to giving that human who screamed at you for five solid minutes over not vacuuming up a dust bunny you couldn't reach a bullet to the face.
5. We're Teaching Them to Rebuild Themselves
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We'll give it to Don Ingber, his research is really neat. Ingber has created nanodevices that can self-assemble and change their shape whenever asked. And they're made of DNA! Hooray, no foreign metals in your system!
Of course, his research lays the ground work for nanotechnological (really teeny) robots to assemble themselves. And then start assembling bigger robots out of nearby materials, like dirt, oxygen, and fourth graders. An infinite supply of robots. Angry robots.
Dear Mr. Ingber, please do not design a death ray and teach your nanobots to build it. Sincerely, the Human Race.
4. We're Giving Them Better and Better Power Sources
Michael Strano, of MIT, had a great idea: why not create a solar cell based on photosynthesis? So he did, and it turned out to be a solar panel that self-assembles, can be taken apart or put back together quickly, and can be applied to any surface. Which is great until you realize that this is the kind of technology that meant Neo and Morpheus lived under permanent storm clouds.
Then, of course, somebody, namely the company LaserMotive, just had to go out and build a system that could allow robot helicopters to fly for hours, powered off of lasers. So, now, the robots have cheap, easy-to-assemble power supplies and unlimited aviation power. But at least they can eat us...right?