When a robot almost looks human--almost, but not quite--it often comes across as jarringly fake instead of familiar. Robots that are clearly artificial, like WALL-E or R2-D2, don't have this problem. But androids like this one that imperfectly mimic human mannerisms and facial expressions are weird enough to be haunting.
In an intriguing thought experiment, landscape architect Bradley Cantrell, historian Laura Martin, and ecologist Erle Ellis have taken this ethos to its logical extreme, and ended up with what they call a "wildness creator"--a hypothetical artificial intelligence that would autonomously protect wild spaces. We'd create it, obviously, but then let it go, so it would develop its own strategies for protecting nature. Maybe it blocks out human-made light or noise. Maybe it redirects the flow of water or destroys litter.
The evolution of computer science from mathematical logic culminated in the 1930s, with two landmark papers: Claude Shannon's "A Symbolic Analysis of Switching and Relay Circuits," and Alan Turing's "On Computable Numbers, With an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem." In the history of computer science, Shannon and Turing are towering figures, but the importance of the philosophers and logicians who preceded them is frequently overlooked.
In another astonishing detail from the court filing, Waymo says it was tipped off of the alleged theft when Waymo was "apparently inadvertently" copied on an email from a vendor of Uber's. The email included an attachment of an Uber circuit board that "bears a striking resemblance to Waymo's own highly confidential and proprietary design and reflects Waymo trade secrets," Waymo said in its lawsuit.