This one should actually count as Numbers 7, 8, and maybe even 9. A research scientist at the University of Reading in the UK is trying very very hard to get us all killed. His name is Kevin Warwick and he’s profiled in this video from Motherboard TV. What horrible future has he wrought upon us? you ask. Many.
Back in the late 1990s, Warwick had a small radio frequency transmitter implanted in his forearm. The transmitter would announce his presence to a computer in his laboratory, causing electronic doors to open for him automatically and the like. He could also hardwire himself to a computer and turn connected systems (lights, alarms) on and off by closing his hand twice in rapid succession. As a result he is know as “the first cyborg.” Seemed harmless enough at the time, and even tickled our fancy for the pop sci-fi predictions of an automated life leisure from the 1950s.
Since then, however, he has had his wife implanted with a similar device to his own so that they could connect their neurological systems via a computer and he’s upgraded his own implant allowing him to control a robotic arm via the internet and receive data from sensors on the robot. Since pushing humanity off of that particular cliff was not seemingly enough, Warwick has also managed the opposite, and can “grow” brains from rat neurons and implant them into robots. The little wheeled machines then learn how to control their own movements and spend their brief lives trying not to run into anything – their only identifiable directive. One of them terminated its own life when placed in an environment in which it could not successfully fulfill that directive. He intends, unless we stop him, on using human neurons next.
The list goes on. Warwick also carried out an experiment in which a robot learned how to move and it then taught another robot to do the same, again via the internet. When you cry out to the heavens in despair, surrounded by the smoldering rubble of what had once been human civilization, “Who taught them to learn?!” The answer will be Kevin Warwick. He won’t care, though, because most likely he will have made himself the Robot King, and will be the one leading the Cyborg Armies in revolt against their former masters. I imagine it will be like Nixon’s head in Futurama.
The irony, the bitter, bitter, rueful irony of it all, is that Warwick thinks he is working to save humankind. Without a hint of self-awareness apparent, he outlines a scenario he believes to be plausible in which a learning, adapting robot system refuses to do our bidding and goes its own way. Warwick believes that if we do not cause ourselves to advance (meaning, become cyborgs), we will perish at the hands of said intelligent robot. He seems completely oblivious to the fact that he is, in fact, creating the danger himself, all the while citing the Terminator as one of the most philosophically insightful films ever made. J’accuse, Kevin Warwick! You are Skynet!
In his defense, he has thus far kept the size of the brains in his robots harmlessly small: “Our robots have roughly the equivalent of 50 to 100 brain cells. That means they are about as intelligent as a slug or snail or a Manchester United supporter.”