Anti-Robot Protesters Take to SXSW

"I say robot, you say no-bot."


Stop the Robots/Facebook

Update: Yep. As suspected, this was a marketing move, for the "new matchmaking app" Quiver

This year's South by Southwest (SXSW) festival featured a "robot petting zoo," a screening of new A.I. movie Ex Machina, and panels on robot-written news and self-driving cars. But not everyone at Austin's annual music, film, and technology festival is feeling optimistic about such developments. On Saturday, about two dozen members of the group Stop the Robots gathered for a SXSW protest, holding signs with slogans such as "Humans are the future" and chanting "I say robot, you say no-bot." 

Though it reads like a prank or an Ex Machina publicity stunt, protest leaders insisted they were serious. "This is is about morality in computing," Adam Mason, 23, told USA Today

While some (including myself) are still skeptical, outlets from USA Today to TechCrunch are saying that the protest and the sentiments expressed there were authentic. 

A spokesperson for the group told TechCrunch they hoped to raise awareness about the possible dangers of uncontrolled growth and development around artificial intelligence and robotics. He stressed, however the group wasn't against technology per se or even robots and AI, but they wanted to make sure that these technologies were developed in a controlled way.

…the protest spokesperson insisted they didn't intend to stop the progress of technology, but they hoped to encourage government oversight and even a worldwide organization to make sure that these technologies are developed safely and under controlled growth.

According to the Stop the Robots website, the organization "is dedicated to using technology for good and understanding the true risks that artificial intelligence poses to humanity." Links on the site go to articles such as "Why You Should Fear Machine Intelligence" and "The Need For Regulation." 

For some reasons why you shouldn't fear machine intelligence, check out Reason's recent robot issue