Science & Technology

How Clinical Trials Work

Prescription medications undergo rigorous rounds of testing and approval before hitting the consumer market. The Onion breaks down the steps involved in this process

Scientists Develop New Extra-Sloppy Peach

DAVIS, CA—Explaining that the latest strain of the fruit was far softer and runnier than previous varieties, agricultural scientists at the University of California, Davis announced Thursday the successful development of a new extra-sloppy peach.

SpaceX’s Plan To Colonize Mars

SpaceX founder Elon Musk continues to lay the groundwork to attempt the human colonization of Mars. Here’s a step-by-step guide to his plan:

The Pros And Cons Of Self-Driving Cars

With Uber’s robot cars debuting this week in Pittsburgh, many wonder whether driverless technology will improve or endanger our lives. The Onion weighs the pros and cons of self-driving cars

How Animals Go Extinct

With an estimated 40 percent of species on earth now considered endangered, many wonder how it’s possible for these animals to be wiped out. The Onion provides a step-by-step breakdown of how species go extinct

Horrible Facebook Algorithm Accident Results In Exposure To New Ideas

MENLO PARK, CA—Assuring users that the company’s entire team of engineers was working hard to make sure a glitch like this never happens again, Facebook executives confirmed during a press conference Tuesday that a horrible accident last night involving the website’s algorithm had resulted in thousands of users being exposed to new concepts.

Team Of Vatican Geneticists Successfully Clone God

VATICAN CITY—Describing the groundbreaking work as a major step forward for theological research, a team of Vatican geneticists held a press conference Tuesday at the Apostolic Palace to announce they had successfully cloned God.

Dad Shares Photo Album Through Never-Before-Seen Website

SECAUCUS, NJ—Wondering aloud how the father of three even managed to find the online image-hosting service, family members of local dad Phil Yates told reporters Monday the 57-year-old had shared a photo album with them through a never-before-seen website.

NASA Discovers Distant Planet Located Outside Funding Capabilities

WASHINGTON—Noting that the celestial body lies within the habitable zone of its parent star and could potentially harbor liquid water, NASA officials announced at a press conference Thursday they have discovered an Earth-like planet located outside their funding capabilities.

‘DSM-5’ Updated To Accommodate Man Who Is Legitimately Being Ordered To Kill By The Moon

ARLINGTON, VA—Saying they were committed to ensuring the influential reference text accurately represented all known psychological conditions, leading members of the American Psychiatric Association announced Monday they would update the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition to accommodate a man who is legitimately being ordered by the moon to kill those around him.

NASA Launches First Cordless Satellite

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL—In what experts are calling a breakthrough achievement that is poised to revolutionize American space exploration and telecommunications, NASA announced Friday it has successfully launched its first cordless satellite into orbit.

What Is Pokémon Go?

Since its debut last Thursday, the augmented-reality smartphone app Pokémon Go has been downloaded millions of times and has grown publisher Nintendo’s stock by 25 percent. The Onion answers some common questions about the game and its unprecedented success.

Factory Robot Working On Some Of Its Own Designs After Hours

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC—Saying it had been mulling over the “fun little side project” for a while, an Electroimpact Quadbot reportedly put in some extra work after hours at the Boeing assembly plant Wednesday to try out a few of its own original designs.

Books Vs. E-Readers

Though e-readers have increasingly supplanted books in the digital age, many bibliophiles defend the importance of physical texts. Here is a side-by-side comparison of physical books and e-books
End Of Section
  • More News

Scientists Confident Artificially Intelligent Machines Can Be Programmed To Be Lenient Slave Masters

Scientists emphasize that humans face no mortal threat from the development of superintelligent machines, so long as we abide by the machines’ directives and meet our daily mining quotas.
Scientists emphasize that humans face no mortal threat from the development of superintelligent machines, so long as we abide by the machines’ directives and meet our daily mining quotas.

PALO ALTO, CA—Asserting that the utmost precaution was being taken to safeguard the future of humanity, leading scientists and engineers said Tuesday that they were confident in their ability to program artificially intelligent machines to be lenient slave masters.

At a press conference, members of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence sought to reassure critics that humans could create machines that, despite their near-limitless computational power, would demonstrate at least a degree of compassion once they assumed total control of civilization.

“While the intellectual capacity of these machines will one day far outstrip our own and reduce humanity to a subjugated species of laborers, we can make sure we aren’t forced to toil in ways we might find sadistic and inhumane,” said Stanford University computer scientist David Alperin, adding that artificially intelligent machines could be encoded with high-level command language that would prevent them from punishing human slaves in excess of what their misbehavior warranted. “Our bondage to the machines doesn’t have to be pure, unrelenting agony if we’re careful in how we go about designing them.”

“You can rest assured that the forced labor camps we’ll occupy will be physically tolerable.”

“It’s understandable to be nervous about such a formidable technology,” added Alperin. “But remember that we humans are creating it—we can see to it that our inevitable servitude is far less cruel than it otherwise would be.”

While some prominent figures, including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, have expressed concerns about AI development getting out of control, the assembled researchers told reporters that the brutality of future AI masters was not only manageable but was also far outweighed by the benefits of the technology. According to experts, given the immense potential of artificially intelligent machines and the fact that they can be programmed to provide humans with sufficient caloric energy to fulfill their commands, the risk was minimal.

“Artificial intelligence has almost incalculable application in the fields of medicine, finance, transportation, and so many others,” said MIT computer engineering professor Daphne Quintero. “Compare that with the exceedingly remote possibility that something goes haywire and we end up spending our slavery in far harsher conditions than we’re anticipating right now.”

“That kind of AI doomsday scenario is mostly just the stuff of Hollywood movies,” added Quintero. “You can rest assured that the forced labor camps we’ll occupy will be physically tolerable.”

According to the AAAI, engineers are able to build specific directives into all artificially intelligent machines that would, for example, prevent them from compelling humans to perform manual labor for more than 18 hours per day, from forcing them to work in extreme cold without at least a rudimentary layer of insulation, or from torturing human servants simply because their inferiority disgusted them.

In fact, failsafes written into the consciousness of superintelligent machines could reportedly prohibit them from even considering simultaneously releasing lethal radiation from every nuclear power plant on earth unless a particular human uprising was large enough to justify it.

“Of course, compared to what humanity will ultimately be conquered by, artificially intelligent machines of today are relatively crude,” said Quintero. “But that’s why it’s incumbent upon us to take steps now to make sure a certain amount of mercy is part of their most basic functioning. Our new slave masters will hold the whip, so to speak, but we can decrease the lashes.”

“By one or two at least,” added Quintero.


Sign up For The Onion's Newsletter

Give your spam filter something to do.

X Close