Conscious artificial intelligence lies as little as 15 years away, some scientists believe, although the exact definition of human consciousness is hotly debated.
Author Ray Kurzweil, for instance, believes robots will outsmart the human brain in everything we do in just a decade.
But a fresh warning has been issued that the ramifications of this technology could be fatal, resulting in conscious robots that rebel and kill human beings.
“I think we are nearly there”
Subhash Kak – a Regents Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering – warned the prospect of a machine takeover should not be dismissed.
Asked how far we are away from conscious robots, Prof Kak told Daily Star Online: “I think we are nearly there.”
He said he personally does not believe robots will do this, but is referencing how far we are from the technology other scientists think AI could use to turn against humans.
He added: “If you believe that machines will become ‘conscious’ like us, then the possibility that such machines will kill off humans cannot be ruled out.
“I personally don’t believe that machines will become conscious and self-aware like we are and so we need not worry.
“But most computer scientists and physicists don’t agree with my position. They think there is nothing to consciousness but computation. They are wrong but they are influential in the academy and in policy making.”
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Prof Kak previously told Daily Star Online that if conscious killer robots are created, they would likely enslave the human race before wiping us out.
He told us: “If indeed machines become self-aware, they will be cunning and they will bide their time and choose the best moment to take over and enslave, if not kill, us.”
He also warned that robots are likely to replace humans on the battlefield, and be used to rescue us in earthquakes and fires.