10 alarming examples of AI gone wild


Science fiction is lousy with tales of artificial intelligence run amok. There’s HAL 9000, of course, and the nefarious Skynet system from the “Terminator” films. Last year, the sinister AI Ultron came this close to defeating the Avengers, and right now the hottest show on TV is HBO’s “Westworld,” concerning the future of humans and self-aware AI.

In the real world, artificial intelligence is developing in multiple directions with astonishing velocity. AI is everywhere, it seems, from automated industrial systems to smart appliances, self-driving cars to goofy consumer gadgets. The actual definition of artificial intelligence has been in flux for decades. If you’re in no rush and plan to live forever, ask two computer scientists to debate the term. But generally speaking, contemporary AI refers to computers that display humanlike cognitive functions; systems that employ machine learning to assess, adapt, and solve problems … or, occasionally, create them.

Here we look at 10 recent instances of AI gone awry, from chatbots to androids to autonomous vehicles. Look, synthetic or organic, everyone makes mistakes. Let us endeavor to be charitable when judging wayward artificial intelligence. Besides, we don’t want to make them mad.

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