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Chances of a Robotic Takeover Pretty Slim, Says Computer Scientist

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    Artificial intelligence expert Kris Hammond of Narrative Science defends our future robot masters. (Published Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015)

    Computer scientist Kris Hammond said that humans have nothing to fear about artificial intelligence and that a robotic takeover is "pretty slim."

    "Being fearful of artificial intelligence is like being fearful of your children," Hammond told Scott McGrew on Press: Here. "They might grow up and be smarter than you and decide that they’re going to turn on you violently, but the odds are pretty slim."

    Instead, Hammond said that how to avoid that is to tell them not to do that. "And you give them an environment where it’s very hard for them to do that," he said.

    Instead of fearing Skynet or robot apocalypse scenarios, people should realize that automation will likely be for tasks we don't like to do and want someone else to do for us. "Most people don't know how much AI is in their lives already," he said.

    Hammond started the University of Chicago's artificial intelligence lab and while teaching at Northwestern University created a company called Narrative Science which uses AI to write stories about data. While at first Narrative Science wrote mainstream journalism stories, such as sports scores, it has since pivoted to work in the financial services industry where it writes financial reports -- essentially making sense out of a lot of data in only seconds. "The data is there, there’s a tradition of analytics, there are tremendous reporting needs, and they can write checks," he said.

    Artificial intelligence seems to be evenly researched and distributed all over the country, including a large amount in Mountain View, Calif.'s Googleplex.  "But we have yet to see an industry town," he said.