An open letter calling for caution to ensure intelligent machines do not run beyond our control has been signed by a large and growing number of people, including some of the leading figures in artificial intelligence.
Fears of our creations turning on us stretch back at least as far as Frankenstein, and films such as The Terminator gave us a whole new language to discuss what would happen when robots stopped taking orders. However, as computers beat (most of) us at Jeopardy and self-driving cars appear on our roads, we may be getting closer to the point where we will have to tackle these issues.
In December, Stephen Hawking kicked off a renewed debate on the topic. As someone whose capacity to communicate depends on advanced computer technology, Hawking can hardly be dismissed as a Luddite, and his thoughts tend to attract attention.