We’ve seen it in the movies. Terminator. The Matrix. iRobot. Eventually we build computers and robots that are so smart, they surpass our capabilities and intelligence, and become the supreme beings of the planet. Humans become a novelty. Slaves to the technology we built. Relative zoo animals.
According to some very smart people it may not be as far fetched as you think. Google owned DeepMind director Nick Bostrom said this about the current wave of emerging technology that could make Hollywood nightmares a reality:
I personally believe that once human equivalence is reached, it will not be long before machines become superintelligent after that. It might take a long time to get to human level but I think the step from there to superintelligence might be very quick. I think these machines with superintelligence might be extremely powerful, for the same basic reasons that we humans are very powerful relative to other animals on this planet. It’s not because our muscles are stronger or our teeth are sharper, it’s because our brains are better.
Well that’s concerning.
It’s also the reason why the DeepMind team is attempting to develop a Kill Switch that will allow humans to re-take control of artificial intelligence if things go awry and it attempts to take dangerous measures for what it perceives are the greater good of the universe:
If such an agent is operating in real-time under human supervision, now and then it may be necessary for a human operator to press the big red button to prevent the agent from continuing a harmful sequence of actions — harmful either for the agent or for the environment — and lead the agent into a safer situation.
The most troubling detail surfaced by the Business Insider article? It might not always be possible to pull the plug on our newly superior computer counterparts:
“It is unclear if all algorithms can be easily made safely interruptible,” the authors admit.
Great. We’ve been sold on the promise of the “cloud” but are we just being duped into Skynet?
I’m not sure whether to be amazed at the foresight of Hollywood scriptwriters or intensely nervous about the future of humanity. Something tells me it’ll be a few generations before the reality becomes clear, so let’s hope our youth isn’t snapchatting away cleave shots while the robots plan a coup to save us from ourselves.
We all thought it was awesome when Google bought Boston Dynamics and suddenly robot sidekicks and companions seemed like an amazing idea. But now that you’re caught up with the severity of the threat, watch this quick comedy sketch again:
What will that robot do if and when it eventually becomes more powerful than us?
[Via Business Insider]