Inhuman Kind

Feb 25, 2024 | Technology, Videos

In Inhuman Kind, a new documentary directed by Jacob Horwitz, groundbreaking robotic technology is explored in detail, with a focus on the potential impact that these advances may have on military, law enforcement and consumer sectors. The film takes viewers to Virginia Tech, home of several competing labs working to perfect the next generation of robots. On one hand, these creations hold much promise when utilized for humanitarian purposes in disaster zones; on the other hand however, their development is being heavily funded by divisions within the United States military which has raised some ethical concerns.

The documentary examines both sides of this debate and features interviews from technologists who are building robots for various noble causes such as search and rescue missions. However, there are also those who worry that without proper oversight these same machines could ultimately be weaponized—and there is evidence that this has already occurred with older models like bomb and landmine detectors and surveillance drones.

To further complicate matters are fears that AI technologies could evolve faster than our own understanding of them. Professor Max Tegmark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology lends his voice to this chorus of caution: “If the technology grows faster than the wisdom,” he says “it’s kind of like going into kindergarten and giving them a bunch of hand grenades to play with.”

This underscores an important point made throughout Inhuman Kind: that we must approach emerging robotic technologies with extreme care and forethought as they can be incredibly powerful tools when used appropriately. Jody Williams, head of the activist organization Campaign to Stop Killer Robots echoes this sentiment asking “Where’s the ethics? Where’s the morality? Why do people think it is OK to create machines that on their own can target and kill?”

For those interested in exploring these issues in greater detail or learning about how current technological developments could shape our future world view, Inhuman Kind offers a thought-provoking look at current robotic technologies as well as a valuable platform for discussion.

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David B