It is some unknown number of years in the future. The children, playing under the watchful eye of their domestic robot, are hungry. The robot sees that the fridge is empty.
It also sees the family cat.
“If the robot doesn’t understand the balance between nutritional value and sentimental value, then you have a problem,” said computer scientist Stuart Russell, as he stood at a podium in front of a large screen displaying the headline “Deranged Robot Cooks Kitty for Family Dinner.”
Russell, who literally wrote the book on artificial intelligence, was speaking to a conference room packed with students as part of Northeastern’s Leaders who Inspire series. The talk, which was sponsored by Northeastern’s department of political science, primarily concerned how to ensure that the advent of artificial intelligence does not spell the end of the human race.
“This is a social science and humanities problem,” said Russell, who is a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence. “We have to figure out how to ensure that we remain the intellectual owners and managers of our civilization.”