science
How Skynet Might Emerge From Simple Physics

provocative paper from 2013 proposed that complex intelligent behaviour may emerge from a fundamentally simple physical process. The theory offers novel prescriptions for how to build an AI — but it also explains how a world-dominating superintelligence might come about, such as the Terminator franchise's Skynet system. And on this day, 25 years on from the release of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, we thought it appropriate to revisit this novel, slightly unsettling thesis. Read More >>

google
Google Doesn’t Want to Accidentally Make Skynet, So It’s Creating an Off Switch

There are two unmistakable sides to the debate concerning the future of artificial intelligence. In the “boom” corner are companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft aggressively investing in technology to make AI systems smarter and smarter. And in the “doom” corner are prominent thinkers like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking who’ve said that AI is like “summoning the demon.” Read More >>

wtf
Seven Real Products That Get Their Names From Dystopian Fiction

We all use dystopian movies and books to make sense of our world. Whether it’s Brave New World, 1984, or The Hunger Games, dystopian fiction serves as a common touchpoint to talk about our fears. But what happens when companies knowingly embrace the dark side of futurism and start naming products after the things we were supposed to find scary? Read More >>

weapons
Here’s the Home-Made Gun-Toting Quadrotor Nightmares are Made Of

I’m not normally of the school of thought that quadrotors should be terminated with a shotgun, but then again, I’ve never seen a DIY hell-craft casually flying around with a handgun. Until now. Read More >>

security
The NSA Actually Named a Programme Skynet

In the Terminator franchise, Skynet is an evil military computer system that launches war on humanity. And at some point, someone in the National Security Agency sat down and thought, “Damn, that’s a sick thing to name a secret system!” Read More >>

robots
This Company is Making Robot Security Guards That Look Like Daleks

If you're sitting down at the drawing board to design a robotic security guard, and you don't want people to run the other way screaming 'oh hell no' at first sight, here's a little tip: don't make it look like the evil killer cyborg from a science fiction programme. Read More >>

science
Cyborg Cockroaches Could Be Used to Save Trapped Humans

Controlling cockroaches with electrical 'backpacks' is one of those science experiments that's simultaneously quite cool and ethically grey. What might make you feel better, though, is the knowledge that those remote-controlled cockroaches may save your life if you ever get trapped inside a burning building. Read More >>

Hexapod
robots
Run For Your Lives: Auto-Fixing Hexapod Is Self-Aware

Many of you have expressed some, um, concerns about a few of the bots we've covered in recent weeks. ATLAS, for instance, is quite frightening, but it's not yet self-aware. This tiny hexapod, however, is and it's rather unsettling. Read More >>

military
The US Navy is Testing a Centralised Drone-Control System (A.K.A. Skynet)

'A centralised control computer for robots on land, air or sea' sounds suspiciously like the Terminator-wiki description of Skynet. But actually, it's just the SparkNotes version of the US Navy's latest test project, the Common Control System, which is going to kill us all. Read More >>

space
Our Skynet Communications System is Growing, But Still Friendly

The Ministry of Defence has launched a new communications satellite, making its Skynet comms network bigger and better than ever. And yes, it is called Skynet. Read More >>

robots
This Robot Racing Car Is a Much Better Driver Than You (at 120MPH)

What you're looking at here is Standford's driverless Audi TTS, which can blast round a track much faster than you could ever dream of going, and it's entirely automated. Read More >>

security
Flame Trojan Gets Strange Auto-Destruct Command

Remember that massive piece of spy malware that was running about the internet called Flame? In a very strange turn of events, apparently it's just been told to immediately commit suicide and destroy itself, leaving no trace it was ever there. Read More >>

security
Iran Laughs In the Face of the Flaming Malware Menace

Iran's been hit pretty hard by the latest malware scourge, Flame, which is described by some as Stuxnet on steroids. The country's not taking this lying down though, and it's fighting back. It's brought the smackdown on the pesky computer bug, and reckons it's got the skills to kill it off, no biggie. Read More >>