It isn't quite artificial intelligence, but a robotic vacuum cleaner has been reported to have attacked its owner in South Korea. The unsuspecting victim was taking a casual nap on the floor of her home when the robot tried to eat her hair.
Awaking in pain, the woman was unable to escape the machine and desperately called the fire department for assistance. Paramedics responded and managed to save her from the hungry vacuum's attack. It was also reported that the robot only stopped functioning after one minute of attempting to suck down the victim's hair.
The story originally broke in South Korean newspaper the Kyunghyang Shinmun but was quickly picked up by several leading British newspapers including The Gaurdian , The Telegraph and The Independent . As people on social media began reading and sharing the story, individuals quickly began associating the attack with dystopian fears of a robotic/AI apocalypse, connecting the story to films like the popular Terminator series.
Although it is true that the "attack" was carried out by a robot, the connection between a machine programmed to carry out a specific function and AI is somewhat of a stretch. While programming of vacuums like the one in question will likely be scrutinized more closely following the attack, such machines are unlikely to begin maliciously conniving against their owners in the near future.
Or so we hope.
Korean Biz Wire pointed out the increased threat of similar occurrences in cultures similar to South Korea, where there is a strong tradition of sitting and napping on the floor. Robotic vacuums may have difficulty determining the difference between living organisms and waste that should be cleaned up.
Nonetheless, Tweeters were quick to share the story and predict the impending doom of an AI apocalypse.
Perhaps contributing to the online popularity of the story and tweeted fears are the recent comments made by several leading science and technology experts.
Stephen Hawking, a leading British scientist from Cambridge University stated toward the ends of last year, "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."
Hawking also signed an open letter with Elon Musk - of SpaceX and Tesla Motors - along with other leading technology and science experts, expressing concern over the possibility of an AI uprising in the not-so-distant future if specific checks on the developing technology are not imposed.
Microsoft's founder Bill Gates also recently added his concern to the discussion surrounding AI development, stating, "I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence." He added that, "I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don't understand why some people are not concerned."
Although robotic vacuums are probably a long way from the AI that Hawking, Gates, and Musk fear, we advise everyone to be extra nice to their robotic vacuums. Just in case.