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Google DeepMind’s kill switch research may ease A.I. fears

Sharon Gaudin | June 8, 2016
Want to avoid having robotic overlords in the future? Create kill switch now

Moorhead declined to say if he is concerned about the rise of artificial intelligence-based machines, but he did say he’s glad work is being done on a big red button.

“We should be concerned about A.I. systems with no kill switch,” he added. “It would be like creating a bullet train without brakes.”

Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst, said the DeepMind research makes sense. For an industry that often develops technology before thinking through its repercussions, this is a well-timed effort.

“We are not at the point yet where we have to worry about A.I. taking over,” Kagan said. “However, we always build faster than we think… I just hope that these brilliant scientists can use their brainpower to protect us rather than just invent and eventually threaten us.”

And there’s some general acknowledgement that it’s a good thing Google is involved in the kill switch effort.

Google has been diving head first into A.I., using the technology in its search engine, its upcoming chat and video apps, and Google Assistant and Google Home device.

It only makes sense that the company put some of its attention on safety features, as well, according to Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group.

“I think that given their deep immersion in the area of robotics and A.I., Google is the natural party to lead the way on this research,” Olds said. “Having an A.I. or robot try to ‘take over’ is pretty farfetched, given today’s technology. But how far is that, really? In the next five years, I could see a financial services firm giving over portfolio management to an A.I. I could also see some mechanized equipment that will be totally in control of an A.I. This is why we need the kill switch – just in case one of these things goes off the rails and threatens to cause some damage.”


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