Are we safe from self-aware robots?

End-of-mankind predictions about artificial intelligence, which have issued from some of today’s most impressive human intellects, including Stephen HawkingElon Musk, Bill GatesSteve Wozniak and other notables, have generally sounded overly alarmist to me, exhibiting a bit more fear-of-the-unknown than I would have expected from such eminences, especially the scientists. But that was before I saw reports on the self-aware robot.

The reports, such as this one from New Scientist, tell of a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. A robot was able to figure out a complex puzzle that required it to recognize its own voice and to extrapolate the implications of that realization. Shorthand version: Three robots were told that two of them had been silenced and they needed to determine which one had not been. All three robots tried saying “I don’t know,” but only one could vocalize. Once that robot heard the sound of its own voice saying, “I don’t know,” it changed its answer and said that it was the one robot that had not been silenced.

h/t xx