We’re decades away from being able to develop a sociopathic supercomputer that could enslave mankind, but artificial intelligence experts are already working to stave off the worst when — not if — machines become smarter than people.

AI experts around the globe are signing an open letter issued Sunday by the Future of Life Institute that pledges to safely and carefully coordinate progress in the field to ensure it does not grow beyond humanity’s control. Signees include co-founders of Deep Mind, the British AI company purchased by Google in January 2014; MIT professors; and experts at some of technology’s biggest corporations, including IBM’s Watson supercomputer team and Microsoft Research.

“The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence….We recommend expanded research aimed at ensuring that increasingly capable AI systems are robust and beneficial: our AI systems must do what we want them to do,” the letter said in part. A research document attached to the open letter outlines potential pitfalls and recommends guidelines for continued AI development.

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