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Web Exclusive: Robot Wars, real or science fiction?

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(CNN) - If you thought robot-wars were a figment of science fiction, think again!  Researchers in England will be launching the Center for the Study of Existential Risk next year. 

It's a threat that could change the course of humanity-- and it's not what you think. 

Just like the Hollywood film iRobot.  What if machines started developing their own artificial intelligence?  It's a real enough danger that Cambridge University has set up a new center to study the pitfalls posed by artificial intelligence.  They're not the only ones, but don't panic just yet.

"If there's a transition where the balance of power changes between us and Artificial Intelligence, I think that is far more likely to be something that happens over a period of time," says Peter McOwan, University of London.

While the kinds of robotic technology seen in films may still be a long way off, billions of dollars are being spent each year on developing artificial intelligence in military systems.  The U.S. has already developed a slew of high-tech gadgets -- from pilotless drones to machines that can run faster than Usain Bolt.  

Other robots with Artificial Intelligence include creations that can even walk on ice or detect uneven terrain. While many of us may have visions of scenes from the hit "Terminator" -- where the Skynet Military System is destroying the planet, it doesn't look like it'll happen in our lifetime.   

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