The Terminator and the Washing Machine
Produced by Erik German
The first time the word “robot” ever appeared in literature in the 1920s, the fictional machines rose up and killed their creators. We’ve been telling the same story ever since. From Hal 9000 to the Terminator, it often seems the measure of a fictional machine’s intelligence is best taken by its wish to do us harm.
It’s a scary vision for some observers, and not just technophobes: Scientists like Stephen Hawking; legacy technologists like Bill Gates; not to mention cutting-edge techies like Elon Musk, have all announced their worries about runaway A.I. killing off the human race.
Remarks like that tend to echo in the press. But how worried should we really be? Talking to the scientists working to solve some of A.I.’s toughest problems offers some answers. And so does taking a closer look at the legendary—and widely misunderstood – match between a supercomputer and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997.
More Like This
The Unexpected Science of Exercise
Does exercise really make you lose weight? One scientist went to Africa and found an unexpected answer.
Teaching Robots to do Easy Stuff is Still Hard
The robotics team from M.I.T recovers from disaster at the robot Olympics.
LSD and Cats
The early science of hallucinogens in the 1950s and '60s was "kind of a Wild West free-for-all." For more info on the science of spiders and drugs, visit www.drpeterwitt.com.
Where the Debate Over "Designer Babies" Began
Genetic technology is advancing, and critics are warning of a slippery slope. We spoke with the scientists working at the forefront of the research, families who have benefited and the first-ever "test-tube" baby to understand the debate.