Head of DARPA Robotics Challenge: Beware your own smartphone

By Mike Murphy, for Quartz

Sep 04, 2015

Scientists are working on robots that can leap over objects, run through the forest, and recover from injuries, but we needn’t worry about them eventually dominating or exterminating us.

According to Gill Pratt, the program manager at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) who ran the agency’s recent robotics challenge, what we should fear are the cellphones we carry in our pockets every day.

"People have this notion that robots are dangerous because they have legs, so perhaps they can come get us," says Pratt. "The danger is not in the legs. It’s in the camera and the microphone. We carry cell phones around all over the place to the worst places they can be and we trust whoever it is to audit the software to make sure it has no malware in it.

"There’s a lot of trust there. We’re the robot."

Read more of Pratt's thoughts on creating more secure communications systems.

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