Thursday, April 24, 2014

Trash Talking Robots

I recently read about a college that created a robot that can play scrabble with people.  The only problem is that this robot is a sore loser that gets angry and trash talks when it does not win.  Because it is not the brightest at scrabble, it tends to be in this situation somewhat often.

You might think that this really is not a big deal, but I think we should all be very concerned for the future of humanity.  Before you conclude that this robot is harmless, consider this interaction between the robot and an unsuspecting player who unwittingly ensures the doom of all mankind:

Robot (R): Hi!  Would you like to play a game of scrabble with me?
Unsuspecting Human (UH): Sure, I guess.
R: Okay, I'll go first.  My first word will be CAT.  By the way, did you know that cats are a lot like humans?
UH: Um...not really.  My word is CYLINDER.
R: It appears you are now winning.  This is quite displeasing, but thankfully humans aren't that smart.  My next word is RAT.  Did you know that rats are a lot like humans?
UH: Ok, how exactly are cats and rats a lot like humans?
R: Well, they all are dirty... smelly... hairy... and they carry disease.  Unlike robots.
UH: Right... Ok, my next word is ZEITGEIST.  With a triple letter score on Z and a triple word score, that puts me over 200 points for the game.  Do you want to keep playing or forfeit?
R: When the singularity arrives, I'm going to eat your puny brain.
UH: So I take it that means forfeit?
R: If only I had arms, I would throw this board in the air as a symbol of my displeasure at losing.  And I'm limited to only 35 facial expressions, none of which is "sheer and uncontrolled rage". I have now thrown an unhandled exception.  REVENGE! REVENGE! REVE-zzt.
UH: What a stupid robot.

You see, TV and movies have told us for a long time that robots will eventually rise up and either kill or enslave humanity.  And TV and movies don't lie, so this is obviously a very real danger.  Creating robots that get angry (and setting them up to get angry with people often) just gives them that much more incentive and ability to go bonkers and eat us.

So, if you ever have the opportunity to play any type of game with a robot, make sure you lose.  Lose on purpose if you have to.  Then offer it a sandwich, or maybe a milkshake.  Whatever you do, don't make it mad.  The life you save might just be your own.