• Stop the Robots protest at SXSW.

Stop the Robots protest at SXSW. (Photo : SXSW)

A noisy street protest against artificial intelligence (AI) and robots was held at the venue of the ongoing South by Southwest (SXSW) film, media and technology festival in Austin, Texas.

Consisting almost entirely of young people, the protestors shouted anti-AI and anti-robot slogans such as "I say robot, you say no-bot!" and held up placards emblazoned with the words "Stop the Robots"!

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Most of the protesters wore blue T-shirts on whose backs were printed the phrase "With artificial intelligence, we're summoning the demon" spoken by Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, perhaps the most prominent of the famous array of anti-AI celebrities that include theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

The protesters were part of a group called Stop the Robot. They said their aims are inspired by a public letter by Musk who warned the scientific community of the dangers arising from malevolent AI.

"If we make something that is as smart as humans or smarter, why won't it make mistakes? We have to consider solutions (based on) human morality, rather than the morality of a computer," said Adam Mason, one of the protestors. 

Protesters said they want to ensure greater regulations and safeguards enforced by governments and an international science body that regulate AI development, said Science News.

In a Reedit Ask Me Anything session held last February, Gates revealed his concerns about AI and that the scenarios in Terminator and similar sci-fi films could become reality if the threat of artificial super intelligence is taken lightly.

"I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," Gates wrote.

"I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don't understand why some people are not concerned".

This January, Musk donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute (FLI), a group that's trying to prevent AI from becoming a danger to humanity. Musk's donation will be used to ensure that automated systems will continue to listen and obey humans in the future despite great strides advancing AI.

FLI recently released an open letter calling on governments to continuously control AI since this technology will one day grow beyond the control of the humans that developed it.

Hawking believes machines with AI could soon be strong enough to pose as a threat to humanity. He fears for humanity's future. He also believes AI machines will destroy millions of human jobs.

"The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race", he told the BBC in December 2014.