Yo, We've Got a Glitch in the Simulation

courtesy of futurism.com

courtesy of futurism.com

Throughout history, machines have played a significant role in human life. From the Industrial Revolution, which many view as a turning point for machinery and robotics (MI), to the development of artificial intelligence (AI). However, as technology has advanced, so has its role in society. For instance, the development of artificially intelligent robots, which has bridged the gap between robotics and artificial intelligence. Such robots have come to work alongside humans, and as a result, have become a big part of our lives.

With that said, although most AI robots operate without any serious issues, they do sometimes go rogue. The most recent example is CIMON, an AI robot on the International Space Station, who quite literally threw a temper tantrum.

Who the fuck is CIMON?

A small robot endowed with artificial intelligence that was built by the European Space Agency. This digital helper has a video-screen face, a camera, and a digital voice so it can talk with the astronauts. Its name “CIMON” stands for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion.

And CIMON got to go to space before me because…?

According to Airbus, “CIMON is designed to support astronauts in performing routine work – thanks to its ‘neural’ AI network and its ability to learn – [and to offer] solutions to problems. It uses Watson AI technology from the IBM cloud and, with its face, voice and artificial intelligence, becomes a genuine ‘colleague’ on board.”

I’m confused though. How the hell does an AI robot ‘misbehave’?

Well, to put it bluntly, CIMON was acting like a dick.

In a video published by the European Space Agency and posted on the Twitter account of the commander of the space station’s mission, Alexander Gerst, CIMON has an emotional meltdown.

According to Quartz,“Midway through their first interaction in space, CIMON tried to endear himself to the astronaut by playing ‘The Man-Machine’ by Kraftwerk.

Gerst listened politely to the first 46 seconds of the song —even bopped along with his fist for a few bars—but then he reached out, shook CIMON’s head, and said, ‘please stop playing music.’

CIMON’s cartoon face appears to roll its eyes. Then, in the middle of Gerst’s next instructions about starting a video stream, CIMON interjects: ‘Cool—let’s sing along those favorite hits.’

Thinking the machine simply didn’t hear him, Gerst repeats his instruction: ‘Cancel music.’But CIMON was having none of it. ‘I love music you can dance to,’ the robot says, sounding a bit defensive. ‘Alright, favorite hits incoming.’

It’s not quite HAL 9000 refusing to open the pod bay doors, but it soured the rest of the conversation. As Gerst relays CIMON’s technical difficulties to support staff, the robot sheepishly reminds his new friend to ‘be nice please.’

Taken aback, Gerst strikes a slightly menacing tone: ‘I am nice! He’s accusing me of not being nice! He just doesn’t know me when I’m not nice.’

‘Cool,’ CIMON sulks. Then, ruefully: ‘Don’t you like it here with me?’”

Damn. At least his malfunction was amusing. But don’t lots of AI robots go bad shit crazy?

courtesy of Business Insider

courtesy of Business Insider

Yes, in fact many have malfunctioned and gone completely off the rails, hurting people in the process. From a robotic security guard pushing a child to a demonstration robot smashing a window at a Chinese conference… AI robots have definitely injured people.

The Network World talks about a few other crazy AI mishaps.  

“Back in the spring of 2016, Microsoft ran into a public relations nightmare when its Twitter chatbot – an experimental AI persona named Tay – wandered radically off-message and began spouting abusive epithets and even Nazi sentiments. ‘Hitler was right,’ tweeted the scary chatbot. Also: ‘9/11 was an inside job.’”

Ok, that’s definitely fucked up. Ready for another incident?

“…a Russian robot prototype named Promobot IR77 escaped the laboratory where it was being developed and made a break for freedom. According to reports, the robot…rolled itself out into the streets of the city of Perm after an engineer left a gate open at the facility. The robot [ended up wandering] into a busy intersection, snarling traffic, and freaking out the local cops”

Uh huh. So how does this shit even happen?

Well, AIs typically become dangerous for two reasons.

First, they can be programmed to do something awful. According to the Future of Life Institute, “Autonomous weapons are artificial intelligence systems that are programmed to kill. In the hands of the wrong person, these weapons could easily cause mass casualties.”

Secondly, they could become so ambitious in achieving their goals that they may employ deadly methods. According to the Future of Life Institute, “This can happen whenever we fail to fully align the AI’s goals with ours, which is strikingly difficult. If you ask an obedient intelligent car to take you to the airport as fast as possible, it might get you there chased by helicopters and covered in vomit, doing not what you wanted but literally what you asked for.”

With that said, why do we continue to work with AI robots?  

According to Network World, “Robots are employed for their intelligence, precision and endless energy, to perform tasks seamlessly and productively, that when performed by humans has a tendency to develop imperfections, thanks to the oft-repeated ‘human error’ and an individual’s tendency to be bored from monotonous and repetitive work.” AKA robots are important to do the things we can’t and actually don’t want to do.

Okay, but why is this important? How does this affect me?

According to Online Schools Center, it could mean a future of no work since robots could take over most jobs. This would then allow people to have more free time on their hands, to do things like enjoy a new hobby… one that will probably involve virtual reality. Additionally, this would allow freedom of employment. For those who continue working, they could choose to do whatever they love, as there would be a universal basic income.

Bottom line?

No matter how scary artificial intelligent robots may seem, us Jerks believe it’s a risk worth taking. Overall, they’re helping to revolutionize the world in a positive way.