Robots showing Austinites 'Artificial Intelligence' isn't scary

 From the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" to the movie "I, Robot," artificial intelligence is seen behaving badly.
Filmmakers and the viewing public have often wondered what would happen if robots ever ran amok.

Dr. Nathan Sturtevant, an expert in the artificial intelligence field just doesn't agree with sentiments from physicist Stephen Hawking and tech giant Elon Musk that A.I. is a threat to people.

"You can use chemistry, you know, to build a bomb.  And no one has dire warnings that if you develop chemistry it's going to be the end of the world," he said.

Sturtevant is part of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.  They're having their annual conference at the Hyatt in Austin this week.

Seeing robots play soccer in a "Robo-Cup" is something the public can see during an open house on Monday.

UT student Katie Genter helps program the robots.
"Every year we compete in an international competition against teams from all over the world.  And the idea is to program robots that can act autonomously, so act without any human input...and be able to play soccer," she said.

She says in the future, the tiny players will get bigger and better.

"One of the goals of Robocup is actually to have a team of autonomous robots, bigger than these guys hopefully, more like able to beat the World Cup champion on an actual human field," Genter said.

Sturtevant says another reason robots won't be running the show anytime soon is -- even though the Robocup players play soccer much better than they used to they still won't work unless the carpet is green, the ball is red...and if the lighting in the room isn't just right, they can't see anything.  So he says technology has a ways to go.

"Raw computation on its own, I don't think has the power to create a being that is suddenly going to be sentient.  That's my personal opinion, other people would disagree with me.  But as our computation increases, we'll see where that goes and it's something we should pay attention to but it's not something right now that we have to be afraid of," he said.

Dr. Sturtevant says Monday's open house at the Hyatt Regency is free to the public.  There will be plenty of robots there as well as speeches from experts in the field on topics like 'Should we be afraid of AI?'  And 'if computers end up doing our jobs for us, what are we going to do?'

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