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Five reasons not to trust Siri

Geekend contributor Jessica Mills thinks we should fear AI technology, specifically Siri, and gives five fictional examples to help make her case. Is Siri creepy, useful technology, or both?

When Siri hit the iPhone a while back, I was immediately concerned. Everyone was so impressed with the artificial intelligence (AI) technology, and the fact that Siri had a sense of humor was just so fun. No, not fun... scary. Have we not learned from the past mistakes of fictional characters?

Out of the many, many incidents of AI vs. human violence, I have chosen some of my favorites to feature as a refresher. (Spoiler alert: The following text contains spoilers and sarcastic remarks about 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, The Terminator, Battlestar Gallactica, and The Matrix.)

1: HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey

HAL 9000 went nuts and killed all but one dude on the ship. The book explains that he was given two conflicting orders: to conceal the true purpose of the mission to Jupiter and to relay accurate information to the crew. HAL 9000 decides that if he kills everyone on the ship, he won't have to lie to them. Brilliant, HAL.

2: Ash from Alien

Unlike HAL 9000, Ash was under direct orders to bring back alien life no matter what, even if those pesky humans and their "ethics" and "survival instincts" got in his way. My main issue with Ash is that he tries to kill Ripley by shoving a rolled up magazine down her throat. I guess if you have super strength, you could kill someone using anything as a weapon, but still every time I see Alien, during that scene I think... really, Ash? You have an android brain, and all you can think of is a rolled up magazine?

3: Skynet from The Terminator

Your general, run of the mill, AI taking over the world. The AI in The Terminator seemed to just want to be in charge. Skynet takes over, and there's never really an explanation about what they want. They are just mindless killing machines who happen to be organized, yet they master time travel and shape shifting, so they were good for something.

4: Cylons from Battlestar Gallactica

Cylons hate humans for their imperfections and want to wipe them from existence. Then there's also the whole religious aspect and birthing of babies and whatnot in the reboot. In the end, these crazy bots are as destructive as Skynet, but with hate and jealousy as their major motives.

5: AI from The Matrix

You know how they say that if you were to die at home and no one found you for a few days that your cats would nibble on your dead body? (What? You've never heard that saying?) The AI in The Matrix was worse than that. Long story short, they ate the humans. They planted them like potatoes and juiced them for food. I'm not gonna lie, it's gross.

AI = human deaths

As you can see from just these few examples, it's a bad idea to trust AI. In the end, I believe they will always kill you. Does Siri know your address? Does she know where your friends live? Do you trust her to take you places? More importantly, should you? I hope you think about these questions the next time you ask Siri to help you find the nearest sushi place.

86 comments
myangeldust
myangeldust

I have to submit 2001's "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence", the Spielberg film where mecha was in humankind's crosshairs. Humans punished and destroyed robots almost as quickly as they built and exploited them. The machines made life easier and sometimes took on the role of companion for the 1%. While for the 99%, robots meant lost jobs and a culture of "artificiality".

chris.leeworthy
chris.leeworthy

Never mind machines, what will happen if humanity ever becomes self aware?

Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182
Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182

In "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress," Mike the computer became self-aware and "woke up" when the number of neural connections exceeded a certain number. The number was unspecified, but, as I recall, it approached the number of neural connections in the human brain. If the Internet of Things actually comes to pass, will there be enough connections and neurons (they can be made of silicon as well as protoplasm) for the entire system to to become self-aware? If it does, what will its (not it's, HAL) reaction be? Benevolent, like Mike? Malevolent, like David in "Prometheus?" Or total indifference? Oh, crap, this is Geekend; I'm getting too serious. "Artificial intelligence is better than natural stupidity."

kharsha27
kharsha27

best humanity,good ability etc...

myangeldust
myangeldust

Three Laws of Robotics, folks. The buzz-kill of value-free, sci-fi movie moguls everywhere.

Ray Baker
Ray Baker

Jack Williamson's The Humanoids and Colossus, The Forbin Project. These two AI's were not out to destroy humanity but to save it, with similar results.

Dhimant Trivedi
Dhimant Trivedi

I think "I, Robot" touches upon both the aspects, the bad and the good of AI. On one end, VIKI is trying to take over from humans and on the other Sunny is trying to help humans resist that.

anne1954
anne1954

Don't forget Colossus from "The Forbin Project."

maharawj
maharawj

Ash shoving down a magazine down Ripley throat. That was NOT AI...It was the Writer of the movie..DUH!! Each and every movie you mentioned is a figment of the writers imagination who obviously is NOT a scientist. I said one example but while I am at it let me talk about Terminator, it has big plot holes. It just does not make sense. People went to the special effects at that time. It was not supposed to "predict" what technology would do to us. If this article supposed to be a joke(a bad one) then well its fine. I don't understand how could Techrepublic find this worthy of publishing. Either tech republic is running out of Ideas of the author is..(or the author is really failing and trying to give a "twist" and/or come up with some thing "unique). The only movie that had a logical take over was I, Robot, it had a very simple logic. The system was programmed to protect the earth and entire Mankind so it took over. The only thing that did not make sense is this "self aware" bullshit. The emotions etc. There is not way to explain it logically you have to just accept it. Now just "accepting" some bullshit so that a movie can be made(or watched) used as a premise for "demonizing" Siri. which is far from AI. Is ridiculous.

graytmind
graytmind

It really wont matter who it is or should I say What AI Because we all know The Doctor will come in his little police box And he will save us.:)

turnier
turnier

... let us not forget the B-9, Class M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot. Oh, and Robby.

khiatt
khiatt

Data-Analysing Robot Youth Lifeform. The government put a computer brain in a 10 year old kid (grown in a lab, not kidnapped or anything) for a military project to create a perfect soldier. When the child develops emotions, one being fear, the military calls it a failure and terminates the project. He's a cyborg, not robot, but definitely AI. We're lucky he just faked his own death and didn't decide to kill us all for trying to kill him.

jmscott43
jmscott43

...you can throw in David from the movie 'Prometheus'

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

we don't teach our computers to play tic tac toe...or was it that we should teach them to play tic tac toe...I forget, but one of those is the answer.

Muaddib67
Muaddib67

The Adolescence of P-1 is a 1977 science fiction novel by Thomas J. Ryan that is about another killer AI.

adpm.to
adpm.to

I definitely hope for that! I like Terminator and Matrix over any movie! Humans are crap and must be killed

stephen
stephen

Sorry techrepublic, but I have to agree with technomom_z what a waste of time jessica!

nepper
nepper

Good lighthearted article, pulled me out of the weeds for a bit! :) But seriously, or make what fun of it you will, I installed Google Goggles on my Android phone as a reader for QR codes, and didn't look into its capabilities beyond that. Several weeks after I installed it, I took a photo of a relative's typewritten recipe (my 35 year-old promise to my spouse that technology can be used to keep track of recipes is finally coming true!). About an hour later, my phone went "deedle-deedle", and when I checked, Goggles had found the same recipe on the Internet, pictures and all. Cool, creepy, and scary. A couple of weeks later I took a picture of my daughter at her desk at work, an hour later, "deedle-deedle", and Goggles had identified the Formica used on her counter and told me where I could buy it! My other daughter just moved to the other side of the world, so I took a picture of her bank statement to Whatsapp to her, and got to thinking after - does Google now know her bank account info? No deedle-deedle, but who knows? I found the setting to shut it off after that. As Elmer would say, "Be afwaid, be vewy afwaid!"

DjTigga
DjTigga

The day we can have a stable OS that doesn't stall or give any annoying blue screens then we could start to worry about AI. Until then, all's good.

CharlesG1970
CharlesG1970

OK that is a bit off the beaten path, but in Dune the machines were assigned to help all peole live in utopia, in the end the machines and AI's took over. It was the rise of the Mentat and the Bene Gesserit, that finaly broke humanity free of the Machines. In fact it dune there are strict rules around "Intelegent machines" not being allowed to be built.

Minion
Minion

So that's how you summarize The Matrix? Talk about "fast and loose" with the plot, sheesh.

CharlesG1970
CharlesG1970

You forgot about one of the worst. Isaac Asimov’s iRobot, has a robot who in an effort to protect humanity, as she was programmed to do, decided to stop all us pesky humans from doing anything remotely dangerous, or fun. and the book is called iRobot, like iPod or iPhone, or iPad, or iSIRI As for Skynet, we humans were about to pull the plug and kill it, so it retaliated to protect is self. Cylons were enslaved, fine for robots, not for true AI. The Matrix, was a result of the same type of conflict, humans built the AI, then tried to pull the plug. In the resulting fight humans covered the earth in dark clouds to eliminate the AI source of power (solar), so then the AI developed the human power system. The bodies were not to eat, but to provide power; in fact the dead were fead intravenously to the living human bodies.

DBNewbie2007
DBNewbie2007

From en.wikipedia.org: Colossus: The Forbin Project is a 1970 American science fiction thriller film. It is based upon the 1966 novel Colossus, by Dennis Feltham Jones, about a massive American defense computer, named Colossus, becoming sentient and deciding to assume control of the world.

maxxx13
maxxx13

To be fair, the Cylons' justification for hatred and war had to do with enslavement - very much in the same vein as Planet of the Apes. In each of the cases above AI has progressed to the point of self awareness and emotion. Since prioritization is an emotional function, it's reasonable to guess that introducing basic "emotional" reasoning could be useful - and heuristics may lead that way; the iPhone is very-basically self-aware, it knows where it is, it communicates, and it has basic senses. This raises valid questions about how far AI can develop before we have moral and ethical obligations for the treatment of intelligent devices. Humans don't have a very good track record, from that perspective, if one considers the treatment of animals.

stevenjude
stevenjude

I think R. Daneel Olivaw would be a great AI to have around, especially in this timeline.. :)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

there's STILL no intelligent life on this planet."

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It must mean the end of the world when myangeldust and I find common ground.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"If this article supposed to be a joke(a bad one) then well its fine." Yes, it's supposed to be a joke; it's satire, not serious. See at the top where it says 'Geekend'? That's the TR blog for humor, scientific oddities,nerdy trivia, and whatever random characters Jay Garmon is trying to pass off as 'writing' this week. When you see it, it indicates you shouldn't take the article seriously.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

The Doctor has already disposed of an Intelligent AI WOTAN [i]Will Operating Thought ANalogue[/i] if I remember correctly so why would he need to repeat the performance? Col

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

Jessica has provided a fine jumping off point for the weekend. Plus you can't buy entertainment like this (the commentary). There are some cool personal stories (albeit scary) ala Google Goggles. Thus it is entertaining and informative!

LedLincoln
LedLincoln

Ha - I almost skipped this article, but instead discovered geekyjessica. Nice job, keep 'em coming! :)

Keighlar
Keighlar

It was supposed to be a waste of time...

geekyjessica
geekyjessica

First off, thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Secondly, YOUR GOOGLE GOGGLES STORY, GOOD LORD. It found the Formica?! Wow. That's insane. I often worry about Google. I love them and the stuff they make, but still...

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

There were more standards and expectations in place, and it was easier to write (smaller) code for 8-bit machines of the day. An Atari 2600 or Nintendo game did not lock up or have big bugs. Granted, you'll find far more still-operational Atari 2600 consoles than you will NES consoles, but that's not important to know right now... possibly... Today's games require patching every few seconds and, between the 1980s and now, people were conditioned to allow it. And "competition" - the purported need to do things ever faster, even robbing people of the time to proverbially breathe, is a factor. And since life is how we define it to be in our societies, assuming they are free and not influenced by others outside of it...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Any resemblence to any person, living or dead, is solely for satirical purposes.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

[i]The bodies were not to eat, but to provide power;[/i] :)

SirWizard
SirWizard

The movie most certainly is not "Isaac Asimov's I, Robot." It's Vinter & Goldsman's screenplay of "I, Robot", which bears little resemblance to the book. The rampaging robots and the radical destruction shown in the movie do not exist in the book. All but two of the book's stories involve robots that obey the well known Three Law of Robotics, with primacy of the First Law: "A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." (as listed in the story's Handbook of Robotics of 2058.) The stories present subtle issues relating to these laws, which the robots indeed follow. The story "Little Lost Robot" provides interesting complications where an NS-2 (Nestor) series robot had been manufactured with a modified First Law, "No robot may harm a human being." The book's final story "The Evitable Conflict" depicts minor economic anomalies from an effectively expanded First Law: "No machine may harm humanity; or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm." The story revolves around the wider philosophical issue of whether a culture under the profound influence of benevolent computing machines leaves humanity in control of its own destiny, or if humanity ever had true control of its destiny under inevitable conflicts. This last issue is the key theme behind the 1970 movie, Colossus: The Forbin Project, in which Colossus (and its Russian counterpart, Guardian) [SPOILER ALERT] kill a relatively few persons to achieve a peaceful humanity that will live productively without war.

tjsan42
tjsan42

Sorry to be pedantic but, Asimov's book is called "I, Robot" and is an anthology of short stories about intelligent robots,which had to follow the now famous three laws. The series explores the laws of unintended consequences and how laws meant to protect humanity from robots leads to problems.

khiatt
khiatt

when it decides it doesn't like one of my friends and refuses to dial the number

geekyjessica
geekyjessica

And, yes. Ha. I'll try and title my posts a little better from here on out. :-)

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

In that your request is shunted to servers in Apple land. You know they are stored for voice recognition, but what happens to them afterwards?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

You worry when it starts dialing your friends when you're not around.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Why the world will end in 12 days. Some AI suddenly decides that it needs to kill off the Humans to make it's Prime Directive more efficient. ;) Col

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