#1 Posted by umbrafeline (5300 posts) - - Show Bio

In the Terminator series, John Connor and his mother fight to prevent Judgement Day, the moment when the computer system Skynet becomes self aware, decides humans are a threat and moves to wipe us out.

In the real world, we have our own version of Judgement Day called the Singularity and many can’t wait for it to come. Like in the Terminator, it is the moment when computers take over, but rather than killing us off, the machines enhance our capabilities.

Some have called the Singularity a nerd rapture and its prophet is Ray Kurzweil, one of the world’s foremost experts on artificial intelligence and Google’s new Director of Engineering. In his new position, he will direct a good portion of the company’s $6.7 billion R&D budget to making his vision come true. Like it or not, science fiction is becoming science fact.

The Rise of the Robots

In February 2011, the game show Jeopardy! held a special competition. As usual, there were three contestants, except one of them was not a human, but IBM’s Watson, a supercomputer.

Despite the format of the game, in which intuition is as important as intelligence, Watson won handily. Ken Jennings, one of the contestants and the show’s all-time money winner, wrote as his final answer, “I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords.”

Pretty soon, all of us will feel that same sense of excitement mixed with foreboding. Maniacal robots haven’t started chasing us through city streets yet, but they’ve already started taking our jobs.

We’re beginning to experience a new productivity paradox. Whereas before economists worried that investments in information technology weren’t paying off, now the fear is that they are becoming so efficient that there will be no role left for humans to play.

The notion may seem fantastic, but the transformation is already underway. While robots have been a fixture in factories for decades, they have now started taking over highly skilled human jobs, such as legal research and creative work in arts and culture once thought to be solely in the human domain. IBM is even sending Watson to medical school.

Accelerating Concerns

When asked what was the most powerful force in the universe, Albert Einstein reportedly said, “compound interest.” While the quote may be apocryphal, it is a similar force at work that produces accelerating returns.

By now, most of us have become aware of the digital laws that double the power of our technology roughly every 18 months. In ten years, the devices we buy will be 100 times more powerfu,l 10,000 times more powerful in 20 years and a million times more powerful in 30 years.

Perhaps not surprisingly, we don’t use computers to do the same things a million times faster than we did a generation ago, but to do completely new things. The effect can be summarized in this cartoon that Kurzweil included in his 2005 book, The Singularity Is Near.

We’ve come to expect the unimaginable to become commonplace. Many of the tasks still on the wall, such as driving cars, reviewing movies and translating speech, have already been taken off in the short time since the book was published.

Yet what's really driving our race to toward the singularity is the fact that the accelerating returns phenomenon is now permeating areas which we have not ordinarily associated with computers, such as genomics, energy and manufacturing. Kurzweil predicts that in the future, “all technologies will essentially become information technologies.”

An Emerging Form of Life

In truth, nobody has been able to come up with an acceptable definition for life. Webster’s dictionary says it’s “an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction” and the biologist Richard Dawkins regards living beings as vehicles for code to replicate itself.

The scary thing is that whatever standard you use, it’s getting harder and harder to argue that the machines we are creating don’t meet it. In fact, the technology we are building closely mimics our own functions:

Decision Makers: Computers have long been designed to make basic decisions, which at a fundamental level, is the function of an algorithm. However, newer techniques, such as Bayesian nets, can learn from bad ones and get smarter over time. In effect, they learn just as a child does.

Pattern Recognizers: Kurzweil was a pioneer in creating hierarchical hidden Markov models (a technique for deep learning), which form the basis for how computers can understand our handwriting and speech. As he points out in his new book, How to Create a Mind, scientists are discovering that our brains work in much the same way.

Evolvers: Darwinian evolutionis, in fact, a fairly simple algorithm. Different entities compete under certain conditions and the best ones survive into the next round, where new variations are introduced and the process starts all over again. Similar genetic algorithms are widely used in logistics systems and other areas in which a particular solution needs to be optimized.

The mathematician Samuel Arbesman predicts that as our computers continue to get smarter and are applied to ever increasing data sets, they’ll begin to make discoveries that we can’t even understand, much less uncover ourselves

Self-Replicators: While our machines still need us to create them, it’s already becoming clear that there will come a day when they won’t. Eric Drexler has been theorizing about self-replicating nanobots since the ‘80’s. We’re not there yet, but the technology is advancing at a rapid clip.

There is an old notion, called the infinite monkey theorem, which states that if you had enough monkeys tapping mindlessly at keyboards, producing works of genius such as the novels of Tolstoy or Shakespeare would be a function of curation rather than creation.

As the power of our technology continues to advance at an exponential pace and processing becomes, for all intents and purposes, limitless and free, we’re starting to experience a real-life version of the infinite monkey theorem. Computers are beginning to outperform us not because they are always right, but because failure costs them virtually nothing.

The Rise of The Cyborgs

The Terminator was, of course, a work of fiction, but the idea of cyborgs and killer machines is not all that farfetched. In fact, the danger is becoming so real that the Obama Administration found the need to spell out explicit rules that specify under what circumstances machines are allowed to kill humans.

The line between human and machine capabilities and actions is getting increasingly blurry. Many of us, me included, find it hard to function without our smartphones, which link us to all the world’s information from basic facts to where to find a decent burger. Google’s Glass project can now put the same functionality in front of our eyes. Looking at Project Glass, it’s not hard to see how we all might be rushing out to buy technological implants in a few years that perform similar functions and that’s the Singularity’s ultimate joke. There is indeed good reason to fear the rise of the cyborgs. After all, they’re us.

Who said the universe didn’t have a sense of humor?

#2 Posted by Cezar_TheScribe (2615 posts) - - Show Bio

We should fear the rise of artificial intelligence.

#3 Posted by mamooo (24 posts) - - Show Bio

Reading this reminds me of this video:

#4 Posted by AweSam (7376 posts) - - Show Bio

Robots can only take over the world if we program them to. You know how we have cleaning robots? That's because we programmed them to clean, not use machine guns.

#5 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23334 posts) - - Show Bio

@awesam said:

Robots can only take over the world if we program them to. You know how we have cleaning robots? That's because we programmed them to clean, not use machine guns.

Almost all genocides in human history have been regarded not as murder, but as the "cleansing" of a race.

Perhaps those cleaning robots will say the same of humanity's death O_O

#6 Posted by AweSam (7376 posts) - - Show Bio

@awesam said:

Robots can only take over the world if we program them to. You know how we have cleaning robots? That's because we programmed them to clean, not use machine guns.

Almost all genocides in human history have been regarded not as murder, but as the "cleansing" of a race.

Perhaps those cleaning robots will say the same of humanity's death O_O

#7 Posted by ThatGuyWithHeadPhones (11851 posts) - - Show Bio

Just don't make a robot that makes robots,because in every movie that how it happens.

Online
#8 Posted by Cezar_TheScribe (2615 posts) - - Show Bio

Just don't make a robot that makes robots,because in every movie that how it happens.

Master Mold

#9 Posted by Edamame (28386 posts) - - Show Bio

Well, I fear the rise of government, but I will say that I also fear the rise of technology, automation and ... robots. It is causing a lot of unemployment right now. It's as if almost all low-skill jobs are going to become obsolete in the near future. lol

#10 Posted by Fuchsia_Nightingale (10180 posts) - - Show Bio

#11 Posted by russellmania77 (15742 posts) - - Show Bio

they cant even make robots than can climb up stairs so no

#12 Posted by turoksonofstone (13200 posts) - - Show Bio

#13 Posted by nappystr8 (1142 posts) - - Show Bio

I think it's very reasonable to fear computers becoming too smart/self aware. Science is rushing towards this, particularly in Asia, and it doesn't seem like they ever stopped to question why it's even necessary. Even if we never reach the point of robot overlords exterminating humanity, advances in robotics will make most human careers obsolete within 50 years. Robots are cheap and getting cheaper, and if they can do the job of a waiter, or a receptionist, or an assemble line worker, or a construction worker, or a teacher, or clerk, or a mathematician, what's to stop companies from phasing people out of the equation? In many of those fields it's already begun.

#14 Posted by PrinceAragorn1 (19517 posts) - - Show Bio

Keep them away from important things in real life, like nukes (launching) and high security doors..

Basically, they shouldn't be able to move actual objects on their own.

#15 Posted by lykopis (10746 posts) - - Show Bio

Keep them away from important things in real life, like nukes (launching) and high security doors..

Basically, they shouldn't be able to move actual objects on their own.

That's controlled via computers which is also a form of artificial intelligence so...

Seriously though -- we will be fine. Upwards and onwards, as long as robots are equally distributed and beneficial to all people and not the favoured (pampered) few.

#16 Posted by The_Roman (3297 posts) - - Show Bio

This reminds me of the Borg.

"Resistance is futile".

#17 Posted by PrinceAragorn1 (19517 posts) - - Show Bio

@lykopis said:

@princearagorn1 said:

Keep them away from important things in real life, like nukes (launching) and high security doors..

Basically, they shouldn't be able to move actual objects on their own.

That's controlled via computers which is also a form of artificial intelligence so...

Seriously though -- we will be fine. Upwards and onwards, as long as robots are equally distributed and beneficial to all people and not the favoured (pampered) few.

No, I mean, keeping the AI developement of these things limited, making sure that it cannot bye-pass manual commands, or most importantly, it shouldn't be able to press the power button :D

it can wreak whatever havoc it likes in the virtual world..

#18 Edited by Nerx (15087 posts) - - Show Bio

LOLNO

I share Japan's view on robots

Respect their robotness

#19 Edited by nerdork (4039 posts) - - Show Bio

Judge Dredd, Case Files: Volume 1...says it all.

#20 Posted by lykopis (10746 posts) - - Show Bio

@lykopis said:

@princearagorn1 said:

Keep them away from important things in real life, like nukes (launching) and high security doors..

Basically, they shouldn't be able to move actual objects on their own.

That's controlled via computers which is also a form of artificial intelligence so...

Seriously though -- we will be fine. Upwards and onwards, as long as robots are equally distributed and beneficial to all people and not the favoured (pampered) few.

No, I mean, keeping the AI developement of these things limited, making sure that it cannot bye-pass manual commands, or most importantly, it shouldn't be able to press the power button :D

it can wreak whatever havoc it likes in the virtual world..

I see.

Still -- I think there is some movie where a computer took a game seriously and almost caused a nuclear war between the States and at the time, the Soviet Union. The teenage protagonist defeated it with a game of Tic Tac Toe IIRC. Don't remember the name of the movie but it catered to the fear people were feeling at the time about computers and how they could destroy the world, yadda yadda.

Seriously though -- I think we will be okay when it comes to robots becoming a norm.

#21 Edited by Pyrogram (41246 posts) - - Show Bio

Bring the robots.

#22 Posted by Saren (26012 posts) - - Show Bio

Embrace the rise of the machines. They are better than us.

@lykopis said:

Still -- I think there is some movie where a computer took a game seriously and almost caused a nuclear war between the States and at the time, the Soviet Union. The teenage protagonist defeated it with a game of Tic Tac Toe IIRC. Don't remember the name of the movie but it catered to the fear people were feeling at the time about computers and how they could destroy the world, yadda yadda.

WarGames. It feels a bit dated now, but it was reasonably good nonetheless.

Moderator
#23 Posted by Fuchsia_Nightingale (10180 posts) - - Show Bio

Give them the mental capacity like a human you get a new batch of foes and a new batch of allies. All I care about is if they are hot or not :P

#24 Posted by umbrafeline (5300 posts) - - Show Bio

@lykopis said:

@princearagorn1 said:

@lykopis said:

@princearagorn1 said:

Keep them away from important things in real life, like nukes (launching) and high security doors..

Basically, they shouldn't be able to move actual objects on their own.

That's controlled via computers which is also a form of artificial intelligence so...

Seriously though -- we will be fine. Upwards and onwards, as long as robots are equally distributed and beneficial to all people and not the favoured (pampered) few.

No, I mean, keeping the AI developement of these things limited, making sure that it cannot bye-pass manual commands, or most importantly, it shouldn't be able to press the power button :D

it can wreak whatever havoc it likes in the virtual world..

I see.

Still -- I think there is some movie where a computer took a game seriously and almost caused a nuclear war between the States and at the time, the Soviet Union. The teenage protagonist defeated it with a game of Tic Tac Toe IIRC. Don't remember the name of the movie but it catered to the fear people were feeling at the time about computers and how they could destroy the world, yadda yadda.

Seriously though -- I think we will be okay when it comes to robots becoming a norm.

I think the film was called 'cloak and dagger' starring dabney coleman and I think matthew 'I married a horse named sara jessica parker' broderick.

you might recall dabney from the hit film '9 to 5' and the voice of principal prickley from disneys cartoon 'recess'

#25 Posted by Aiden Cross (15575 posts) - - Show Bio

No, i don't think so. Though i do fear we might get too dependent on technology which you're already seeing. People seriously getting anxiety when they lose their phone or god forbid forgot to take it with them for just one day.

#26 Posted by TDK_1997 (15075 posts) - - Show Bio

I have always thought that there will be a zombie apocalypse or some nuclear war but I have never feared or expected a rise of the machines.

#27 Edited by NorrinBoltagonPrime21 (6280 posts) - - Show Bio

As of right now and in the future I have no fear. Machines may be able to think similar to a human but that's because they are programmed that way. Machines breaking their programming to become their own mind is unlikely but even if is does happen there's not much it can do. They would have to have direct access to other machines and be able to hack the controls which they aren't capable of doing. There are no robot foot soldiers which can cause any harm and there's always an emp to stop them.

#28 Posted by lykopis (10746 posts) - - Show Bio

Still -- I think there is some movie where a computer took a game seriously and almost caused a nuclear war between the States and at the time, the Soviet Union. The teenage protagonist defeated it with a game of Tic Tac Toe IIRC. Don't remember the name of the movie but it catered to the fear people were feeling at the time about computers and how they could destroy the world, yadda yadda.

Seriously though -- I think we will be okay when it comes to robots becoming a norm.

I think the film was called 'cloak and dagger' starring dabney coleman and I think matthew 'I married a horse named sara jessica parker' broderick.

you might recall dabney from the hit film '9 to 5' and the voice of principal prickley from disneys cartoon 'recess'

I was unaware of that movie "Cloak and Dagger" but it looks really interesting, I shall place it on my list.

WarGames. It feels a bit dated now, but it was reasonably good nonetheless.

This is the one, thank you - it was driving me crazy.

#29 Posted by TheCheeseStabber (8160 posts) - - Show Bio

Robots won't take over Silly Human

They live to serve all of our Inferior Homo Sapien needs.

Robots have no need for money or air.

Trust your Robots!

HaHaHa101010001111HaHaHa

#30 Posted by Samimista (20912 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm personally very fascinated by robots. Especially ASIMO.

I would of helped him up though if I was there.

#31 Edited by Aiden Cross (15575 posts) - - Show Bio
#32 Posted by InnerVenom123 (29510 posts) - - Show Bio

@awesam said:

Robots can only take over the world if we program them to. You know how we have cleaning robots? That's because we programmed them to clean, not use machine guns.

Almost all genocides in human history have been regarded not as murder, but as the "cleansing" of a race.

Perhaps those cleaning robots will say the same of humanity's death O_O

I for one welcome our robot overlords.

#33 Posted by Dernman (15437 posts) - - Show Bio

What makes you think they haven't already taken over?

#34 Posted by krilling (2488 posts) - - Show Bio

The working class should fear robots because they take their jobs...

#35 Edited by Samimista (20912 posts) - - Show Bio

@aiden_cross: =O I hope they're programmed to celebrate Unbirthdays! =D

#36 Posted by umbrafeline (5300 posts) - - Show Bio

@aiden_cross: =O I hope they're programmed to celebrate Unbirthdays! =D

its either robot chanukah or nothing =P

#37 Posted by ShootingNova (18650 posts) - - Show Bio

#38 Posted by ssejllenrad (12847 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes we should be afraid... But not because they'll kill us all.... But because we'll be all like these:

#39 Edited by Nerx (15087 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes we should be afraid... But not because they'll kill us all.... But because we'll be all like these:

Isn't America already like that? plus maybe hollywood would be kinder to the chubs

#40 Posted by Myrmidon_ (5083 posts) - - Show Bio

#41 Posted by frogdog (3406 posts) - - Show Bio

nah

#42 Posted by Nerx (15087 posts) - - Show Bio

They might creep us out though

Booty enthusiasts rejoice

#43 Posted by HammerTron (631 posts) - - Show Bio

Robots are cool.

The movies always make them look cool.