COMPUTERS

Artist Uses Google Assistant to Fire a Gun

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Google Assistant is arguably the most advanced AI that’s available for public use. It’s also incredibly accessible. Just long-press the home button on an Android phone or shout “Hey Google” in a house with Google Home speakers, and you can start asking Assistant to do things. What if you ask it to fire a gun, though? Artist Alexander Reben rugged up a contraption to do just that.

The device is not a ready-made solution for attacking your enemies with AI. It’s just a collection of smart home devices that happen to be rigged up to fire a gun. The start of the process, which you can see in its entirety below, is a Google Home. This smart speaker launched in late 2016 and is just one way to access Google Assistant. It’s also on phones, smartwatches, and in cars. Reben says, “Hey Google, activate gun.” A moment later, a gun fires.

It looks like the actual firing happens by way of a linear actuator that tightens a string looped around the trigger. When Reben says activate gun, he’s probably calling up a custom routine in Assistant that turns on the smart switch you can see around the middle of the frame below. The plug turns on, the actuator gets power, and the string tightens. Boom.

Be aware; this video will probably trigger your Google Home…hopefully you don’t have a gun attached to it.

The gun in question looks like a pellet gun of some sort, not a deadly weapon. Even if it was a real handgun, would Google Assistant be the one pulling the trigger? It’s an interesting question to consider, and commenters are “considering” it vigorously. Many accuse Reben of scaremongering, but he didn’t really make any claims about what this means for society or your personal safety. He’s an artist who probably wanted to prompt exactly this sort of discussion.

Despite all the Skynet jokes we make, AI isn’t going to kill you. Although, it might take your job. The potential danger is that humans can use technology to separate themselves from the reality of inflicting injury on others. It’s easier to tell your AI gun to shoot someone than to do it yourself. Or at least it would be if you had an AI gun, and maybe one day you will.

The Google Assistant-activated gun is not exactly a weapon of war — it’s convoluted and not very powerful. Still, it gives us some interesting questions to ponder.

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