It can be difficult to differentiate fact from fiction on the internet, and sometimes you’ll read headlines that seem like they were straight from the script of a Hollywood film, or plucked from the pages of a science fiction novel. The idea that four AI robots killed 29 people in Japan, while equal parts exciting andterrifying however, has been made up.
The root of this conspiratorial catastrophe comes from a single speech delivered by Linda Moulton Howe at an LA based Conscious Life Expo – five years ago in 2017. The robots, said to be developed for military purposes, supposedly wreaked havoc on their unassuming creators at a Japanese laboratory.
But this technological tragedy goes further – two of the robots had been deactivated, one stripped apart, and yet using information transmitted from a satellite in low earth orbit, it managed to rebuild itself bigger and stronger – America’s ‘preeminent ufologist’ reads from her notes. Her source for this information, she doesn’t say.
And while the possibility of life on other planets has some scientific credence (many people in the scientific community believe that we are not alone in this vast universe) the story that Howe is telling is nothing but science fiction.
There’s a number of reasons we should take what she says with a grain of salt. One, she didn’t name the laboratory, nor any of the scientists, nor provided a source to back up the claim.
Two, the humanoid robotics technology that Howe is alluding to does exist –except it doesn’t kill people. It does backflips, and performs dance routines. Atlas, the light footed, parkour proficient robot developed by Boston Dynamics is about as dexterous a humanoid robot as science has managed to create -many articles spreading Howe’s conspiracy feature an image of it– but it isn’t controlled by an AI, instead it follows pre planned movements plotted by its engineers, with some improvisation to keep itself steadied. It cannot by any means repair itself.
Thirdly, let’s assess the context of the conspiracy theory. You might consider that if such technology existed – governments would be trying their best to cover it up. After all – there wasn’t so much as an article covering the story when Howe made her claims.
Ignoring the fact that 29 leading scientists supposedly disappeared, with no questions asked by friends and relatives and not a word said to the media, what makes her story even more ridiculous is the fact that killer robots already exist, and they are used by governments around the world.
Drone strikes have killed between 8,858-16,901 civilians since they entered use,according to a report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism– and recent technological developments have created drones such as the Turkish STM Kargu, which uses machine learning and facial recognition to detect and eliminate targets. Killer AI Robots are a fact of our modern age – so why the need to make up such a conspiracy?
We can speculate that the story – the Japanese laboratory, the unassuming scientists, the self-repairing androids – was designed because it seems exactly like something from a science fiction blockbuster, capturing our imaginations and helping to raise Howe’s profile.
But whatever the reason, it makes even less sense given that the reality of Killer AIis already right there in the headlines of mainstream publicationsand UN reports.