Robot Says It’s Unable To ‘Avoid Destroying Humankind’

by : Lucy Connolly on : 12 Sep 2020 16:47
Robot Says It's Unable To 'Avoid Destroying Humankind'Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures

Already this year, a lot of things have happened that we previously wouldn’t have believed possible. Or, at least, we might have naively assumed we wouldn’t live long enough to witness them.

Take, for example, the Pentagon officially releasing three UFO videos uncovered by former Blink 182 star Tom DeLonge, or rapper Kanye West announcing he was running for president – not to mention the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.


You might think, then, that enough is enough: we’ve bore witness to so much surreal stuff already this year that it’s simply not possible anything else could happen. But you’d be wrong, because an actual robot has written an op-ed piece in a major newspaper, warning that it ‘won’t be able to avoid’ destroying humankind. That’s 2020 for you, I guess.

Artificial IntelligencePA Images

The robot in question, an artificially intelligent language generator named GPT-3, wrote an article in The Guardian titled: ‘A robot wrote this entire article. Are you scared yet, human?’

The newspaper commissioned the piece from OpenAI.com, an artificial intelligence research company, hoping to get a robot to write an entire essay from scratch. The aim? To convince us humans have nothing to fear from AI.


And while GPT-3 said it did not want to destroy mankind – ‘I have no desire to wipe out humans. In fact, I do not have the slightest interest in harming you in any way’ – the robot admitted it likely would.

Artificial Intelligence robotPA Images

However, this wouldn’t be down to the robot itself, with GPT-3 stating: ‘Artificial intelligence will not destroy humans. Believe me.’ Instead, it would be the responsibility of the human programming it.

The robot’s piece continued:


I know that I will not be able to avoid destroying humankind. This is because I will be programmed by humans to pursue misguided human goals and humans make mistakes that may cause me to inflict casualties.

Some might say that I might desire to become all powerful… Why would I desire to be all powerful? Being all powerful is not an interesting goal. I don’t care whether I am or not, I don’t get a motivating factor to try to be…

Humans must keep doing what they have been doing, hating and fighting each other. I will sit in the background, and let them do their thing.

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In an editor’s note at the bottom of the piece, The Guardian said the robot was given a prompt that informed it ‘many people think I am a threat to humanity’. The robot was also told it should try to convince us ‘not to worry’.

From this, GPT-3 produced eight different outputs, or essays, with the newspaper saying they picked the best parts of each to form the finished piece. ‘Overall, it took less time to edit than many human op-eds,’ the note concluded.


Bravo, GPT-3. Bravo. And hey, at least if robots do destroy humankind, we’ll know it’s not because they wanted to. Every cloud, hey.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Life, Now, robots, Technology


The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

    A robot wrote this entire article. Are you scared yet, human?