I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe,” the villain played by Rutger Hauer reminisces at the end of the film Blade Runner after hauling Harrison Ford’s character on to a roof top and sparing his life. “People” is the operative word since Roy Batty is not a person but an android who escapes to earth from a space colony and takes revenge on the Tyrell Corporation, his creator.
“我见过的事，你们人不会相信。”在电影《银翼杀手》(Blade Runner)末尾，鲁特格尔?豪尔(Rutger Hauer)饰演的反派将哈里森?福特(Harrison Ford)饰演的角色拉回屋顶，饶了他一命，然后说出了这句话。在这句话里，“人”是最重要的字，因为罗伊?巴蒂(Roy Batty)不是人类，他是个机器人。他从太空殖民地逃到地球，向自己的创造者“泰勒公司”(Tyrell Corporation)实施报复。
That is what I call a killer robot — a being that can hold an intelligent conversation with you before wiping you out. It was science fiction in 1982, when Blade Runner, based on Philip K Dick’s dystopian fantasy novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? came out. It is now faintly plausible — sufficiently for artificial intelligence researchers to warn this week of the dangers of an autonomous arms race.
这才是我认为的“杀手机器人”(killer robot)，一个在消灭你之前，能与你进行一场高智商谈话的存在。电影《银翼杀手》改编自菲利普?迪克(Philip K. Dick)的反乌托邦奇幻小说《机器人会梦见电子羊吗？》(Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep)。影片上映于1982年，当时它还是一部科幻电影，如今却有点像真的，反正对于人工智能研究人员来说已经足以成真了，前不久他们警告要谨防出现自主式武器军备竞赛的危险。
The killer machines feared by those such as Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors, and Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist, are crude terminators by comparison with the Nexus replicants in Blade Runner. No one would fall in love with an armed quadcopter that blows up enemy soldiers, as the hero of Blade Runner does with Rachael, the female android who does not realise that she is a replicant.
包括特斯拉汽车(Tesla Motors)创始人埃伦?穆斯克(Elon Musk)、理论物理学家斯蒂芬?霍金(Stephen Hawking)在内，这些专家们所担心的杀人机器，与《银翼杀手》里的“连锁”（Nexus）复制人相比的话，只是原始级别的终结者。《银翼杀手》里的瑞秋(Rachael)开枪杀死哈里森?福特的敌人时，这位男主公爱上了她——瑞秋是个女机器人，她并不知道自己是复制人。但是当一台配备武器的四轴飞行器干掉敌方士兵时，没人会爱上它。
Robots can murder us but they cannot understand us. Autonomous killing machines are becoming reality — Israel already has its Harpy anti-radar drone, which loiters in the sky before choosing and destroying targets itself. A sentient, sophisticated machine with common sense and the capacity to grasp people’s moods and predict behaviour is still a distant prospect.
In theory, it will be created. Artificial intelligence researchers do not see the barrier in principle to robots developing higher reasoning powers, or the kind of physical dexterity that humans possess. The last remaining workers on car assembly lines are people who can attach screws nimbly and reach inside the body shells for electrical wiring in a way that has defeated robots to date.
Machines also possess some advantages. They do not have to constrict their processing units to fit into skulls, and they do not need to supply them with oxygen, an energy-hogging technology. Nor are they limited by an evolutionary edict to reproduce, rather than purely to get cleverer.
But despite rapid advances in machine learning, visual and voice recognition, neural network processing — all the elements that are now transforming the potential of artificial intelligence — androids are not with us. Computers can beat humans easily at chess, but poker at the highest level is beyond them — they would need to see through the other players’ bluffs.
“Computers are becoming better and better at perception tasks,” says Fei-Fei Li, director of Stanford University’s artificial intelligence laboratory. “Algorithms can identify thousands of types of cars while I can only tell three of them. But at the cognitive, empathetic, and emotional level, machines are not even close to humans.”
I have also experienced something you people would not believe — Google’s self-driving car. The thing that struck me as it toured Mountain View in California recently was that it felt human. It accelerated from junctions confidently, even assertively, closing the gaps with vehicles in front so others could not rush in. We would be safer if all drivers were equally calm and rational.
Inside the car, you can see what it perceives with its sensors and rooftop radar. The outlines of objects around, including pedestrians, buses and other cars, are displayed like hollow, moving shapes on the screen of a laptop held by a Google engineer. The objects are categorised by different colours, so the vehicle knows it should react to them and how far to steer clear.
A self-driving vehicle would, in other words, be a perfectly capable killer robot if you attached a missile launcher to its roof, and machine guns to its sides (not that Google would do such a thing, of course). It could cruise through cities, scanning for warm, slow-moving, pink-coloured objects to destroy.
So it is not scaremongering for scientists to warn of artificial intelligence research being tainted by association with autonomous weapons. The internet itself emerged from research funded by the US Department of Defence in the 1960s, and military and space programmes have the deepest pockets and the keenest interest in developing cutting-edge technology. What would be foolish would be to think the advent of killer robots means that machines are ready to take over the world.
Destroying things is easier than understanding or creating them. Artificial intelligence — the ability to scan, process and analyse large data sets — is not the same as the capacity to perform most human tasks (known as artificial general intelligence).
破坏事物比理解或创造事物更容易。人工智能（扫描、处理和分析大型数据集的能力）并不等同于“强人工智能”(artificial general intelligence)，后者才具有执行大多数人类任务的能力。
Even those who warn of machines taking jobs that are now performed by humans accept that managerial, professional, and artistic jobs that demand high level reasoning, empathy and creativity are still safe. A robot that scans a set of features to identify a woman, but cannot grasp her mood, or use common sense to solve an unexpected puzzle, remains very limited.
“Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it’s like to be a slave,” Roy Batty remarks to the human bounty-hunter he has defeated in combat before reaching out and rescuing him from falling to his death. Let us not enslave ourselves yet.