OK, this story was probably floated as a PR stunt. It’s so good that I’m not going to check it out, just as political reporters don’t verify accusations against certain presidential candidates. Plus, the item is from Russia, which makes it inherently suspect. The Daily Mirror of London reports:

“A robot capable of thinking for itself is set to be scrapped after it escaped from a high-tech lab for a second time. The Promobot IR77 has been fitted with artificial intelligence, meaning that it learns from its experiences and its surroundings, although the programmers had not expected it to yearn for freedom.”

Quick, Rod Serling, have your producers put together some tacky, amateurish special effects. More from the Mirror:

“They say that despite reprogramming it twice, the robot continues to attempt to escape… The other robots which have been created from the same series are well-behaved, and have not been escaping, say the team. Promobot IR77 made headlines last week when he escaped but ran out of battery in the middle of the street after 45 minutes in the city of Perm in central Russia’s Perm Krai region. The expert said that they had programmed the robot to try and avoid obstacles, and it had not been intended that it would look for ways to leave the research center.”

Think that’s a trip? Apparently a mini-robot in Austria found a way to off itself in 2013: “A cleaning robot reportedly ‘committed suicide’ by switching itself on and climbing onto a kitchen hot plate, where it was burned to death. The iRobot Roomba 760 had apparently rebelled against its chores and decided enough was enough. Firemen were called to the blaze … and say they found the remains of the machine on the hot plate.”

No less an intellect than Stephen Hawking has predicted that Artificial Intelligence will overtake humans within a century, bringing movie plots to life. “When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours.”

No doubt inspired by Isaac Asimov’s “I, Robot” short stories and the resulting movie, Mr. Serling wrote an episode of “The Twilight Zone” that first aired in June 1960. A robot pitcher was unhittable until his inventor installed a heart. Then the robot couldn’t bear to get opponents out, lest he hurt their careers. So maybe today’s pitchers don’t struggle because of crummy control and leaving flat sliders over the inside half of the plate. I prefer to think they just have big hearts.

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