The South by Southwest technology, movie and music festival has become one of the largest annual gatherings in the United States. SXSW organizers expect well over 150,000 people to pour into tech and live music hub Austin, Texas over the next week or so to marvel at the latest tech gadgets or watch movies and listen to music.
This year, however, a group of local University of Texas students are protesting at SXSW to raise awareness about the growing dangers of robots and artificial intelligence. The group, called “Stop the Robots”, was protesting at the SXSW event sites close to the UT campus in Austin over the weekend.
Statement from Stop the Robots spokesperson
“We have to be careful that we don’t let AI, or technology, take over human roles in a way that is counterproductive to humanity,” Adam Mason, a group spokesperson, said in a Sunday interview with Yahoo Tech. “And we have to figure out a way to use technology at a grand scale to actually create jobs.”
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“We’re technologists that love technology,” Mason continued, “and we foresee a future where technology is necessary for mankind.”
Tech geeks protesting to raise awareness
Of note, the goal of the group is not to ban robots or AI. Stop the Robots is just trying to press home the message that AI could eventually be really dangerous. Tesla’s Elon Musk has also worked toward this goal, and has funded an organization to promote research to help AI do only good of mankind. Stop the Robots says they also want to ensure that AI and robots “empower humans, rather than replace them.”
The group is composed of students from The University of Texas at Austin (many of whom are studying technology-related fields) and other concerned Austinites. They marched around the protest site holding posters saying “humans are the future” and chanting “I say robot, you say no-bot,” and “A- I, say goodbye.”