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Cambridge to Study Technology's Risk to Humans

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Cambridge University professor Huw Price

When "we're no longer the smartest things around," we risk being at the mercy of "machines whose interests don't include us," says Cambridge University philosophy professor Huw Price.

Credit: The British Academy

The potential risks that super intelligent technologies pose to humans will be the focus of the proposed Center for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge University. The center will bring together philosophers and scientists to study the idea that in this or the next century machines with artificial intelligence could pursue their own interests. "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," says Cambridge philosophy professor Huw Price. "What we're trying to do is to push it forward in the respectable scientific community."

The precise nature of the risks is hard to forecast, Price says, but advanced technology could be a threat when computers start to channel resources toward their own goals at the expense of human concerns such as environmental sustainability.

Price is co-founding the project with Martin Rees, a professor of cosmology and astrophysics, and Jann Tallinn, one of the founders of the Internet phone service Skype. Cambridge plans to launch the center next year.

From The Associated Press
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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