Feds: Robot ‘intelligent’ robots may be a security risk

FBI director Robert Mueller said Wednesday that a company that makes an “intelligent” robot that can read human language may pose a “significant security risk” to Americans.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution, Mueller said that “intelligence” can “take on many different forms, but there’s no doubt it can be used to steal data, access data, or even kill people.”

“There are companies out there who can build, build robots that are smart enough to be able to do these things,” he added.

Mueller said that the company that created the robot, Autodesk Inc., has received “a great deal of government funding” in recent years.

He said that a federal law enforcement agency, the FBI, was interested in the “intelligently-designed robot” that could help it solve crimes.

“This is a product that’s designed to help us solve crimes, to make sure that we can get better at solving crimes, and it’s not just a marketing term,” Mueller said.

“It’s the right use of technology.”

Mueller also addressed the use of robots in domestic surveillance and said the use is “not uncommon.”

“It is not uncommon for people to use these robots in surveillance of people, especially people who are living with an incarcerated person,” he said.

“It is also not uncommon to use them in domestic spying.”

Mock up of Autodesks robot.

Autodesky photoThe FBI has been working with the firm since 2012 to develop a robot that would be able “to understand human language” in a “simplified, human-like fashion.”

The FBI’s goal is to create “a highly sophisticated machine that can learn to understand human speech, and that will have a conversational interface that can be customized to be as human as possible,” the FBI said in a statement.

Mulcair’s comments come as the FBI works to combat a growing threat of robotics.

Earlier this year, the government began a pilot program in which drones can be programmed to use speech recognition to search homes and other public places.

Molteni said that while the FBI is “actively looking” for new ways to use robots in counterterrorism, the agency does not see the potential of using them in the criminal justice system.

“There’s a real possibility that we could have to re-think the use and use of these robots,” Molteni told reporters.