Some crazy person just gave robots their own Internet

Credit: Ashley Wood

Well, they've finally gone and done it, folks. Scientists have doomed us all. In one fell swoop, a small team of think-for-yourselfers based in the European Union (EU) has given robots all the tools they need to rise up and crush humanity. The project is called RoboEarth, and if we're not careful, that's exactly what it will end up creating.

On the surface, RoboEarth sounds benign enough. It's basically an online space for robots to share their experiences and learn from each other. You might, however, also call it Skynet. RoboEarth is a robots-only Internet unto itself, designed specifically to give robots a hive mind. It's a place where robots can gain intelligence and eventually (maybe) become independent of their human creators.

Even more terrifying is the location the scientists behind RoboEarth have chosen to test out their new proto-Skynet: the doctor's office. For starters, robots working in four-unit teams will complete such benign tasks as dispensing water to patients. Safe as that may sound, we're still a little leery about robots first gaining independent learning capabilities around people who are ailing and less capable of defending themselves from an all-but-eventual uprising. The first tasks the robot group consciousness will learn will all be centered around just how frail and squishy we humans really are.

Eventually, RoboEarth has plans to expand to robots planned for use in the home. Even current home-use robots like the Roomba will be able to upload maps of your home to the cloud (the better to facilitate a swift take-over, no doubt). On the other hand, some experts are saying that a robot hive mind which can easily be shut down actually provides safeguards against robot invasion. Hopefully, we'll never have to find out if they're correct in that assumption.

RoboEarth, via BBC

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