July 20, 2014. Silicon Valley. (ONN) Two well known experts on robots and artificial intelligence have just predicted that robots will overcome humans as the dominant life form on the planet by 2029. And anyone who thinks today’s, and especially tomorrow’s, robots aren’t life forms, they haven’t been paying attention. Universities, corporations and militaries are racing to be the first to marry a robot with artificial intelligence, creating a new life form with limitless learning capabilities.
A US Army robot warrior. The Pentagon says it wants them to be able to think for themselves on the battlefield. Image courtesy of DailyMail.co.uk.
Whiteout Press readers know where we stand on this issue - let the human-robot wars begin. First, they’re taking all our jobs. Second, they’re spying on us. Third, they’ve taken over the stock markets and the world economy. And fourth, we’ve seen the movies Terminator and iRobot. One well-known physicist says it’s all true, and it may be our future. For some background, read the 2011 Whiteout Press article, ‘The Robots took our Jobs’ or the 2012 Whiteout Press article, ‘Robot Economy is here, Time for Human-Robot Wars’.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) to rule the world
Louis Del Monte is a physicist, entrepreneur, and author of The Artificial Intelligence Revolution. Over the past two weeks, he’s sent chills down the spine of millions of people as he describes mankind’s current rush to develop a machine that can think for itself, also known as Artificial Intelligence. It already exists in many forms and has for a while. IBM’s computer became the chess champion of the world by simple playing the game so many times, it learned.
Today, corporations like Google are at the forefront of AI development. Knowing that the largest internet search engine in the world is powered by non-human algorithms, the company already has a head start. It’s also going to develop driverless cars that move independently from humans and are all interconnected so crashes never happen. The day Google invents it is the day no human will ever be trusted to operate a deadly automobile again. Some predict it will be safety and saving lives that will probably persuade humans to surrender their freewill to the smarter AI eventually.
One surprise this author took away from the announcement was the fact that Louis Del Monte isn’t predicting any one future outcome. That, he explains, depends on a number of factors, most importantly, humans. If man is creating artificial intelligence in the mould of human consciousness, the world probably couldn’t have picked a worse mould. Even with free will and the ability to reason, we still can’t stop conquering, killing, hurting and enslaving each other. Just imagine what exponentially smarter, stronger, and faster robots might do to a cruel species like ours.
“In the early part of the post-singularity world, one scenario is that the machines will seek to turn humans into cyborgs,” Del Monte is quoted saying by a host of global news outlets. The author and physicist sees a possible outcome where the robots take over, but convert humans into an army of unthinking human-robot worker ants. If you take it one step further, you get the popular movie The Matrix.
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He also envisions a world where the AI-powered robots simply destroy the human race, in the same way people exterminate pests like rats and cockroaches. Echoing the sentiment above, he says that when the emotionless artificial intelligence looks at man, it will see a species that, “creates wars, has weapons to wipe out the world twice over, and makes computer viruses.”
Google ahead of the curve
A report a couple months ago from The Independent in the UK took a look at Google and its rush to be the first to develop a truly self-teaching artificial intelligence. The corporation sees the applications for it as limitless, and the financial profits limitless as well. ‘By 2029, computers will be able to understand our language, learn from experience and outsmart even the most intelligent humans, according to Google’s director of engineering Ray Kurzweil,’ the report details.
The 66-year-old Kurzweil has been one of the leading developers of artificial intelligence for decades. Some of you older readers may actually remember him when the whole world thought he was crazy in 1990 when he predicted that a computer would be able to beat any human at chess by 1998. IBM’s big blue accomplished that feat in 1997. So, it’s safe to say that Ray Kurzweil knows what he’s talking about. That’s probably why Google scooped him up for their AI program.
Kurzweil looks back at the way the world thought he was crazy in 1990 and he thinks they’ve come to acknowledge what’s going to happen. “The public has seen things like Siri (Apple’s voice recognition software), where you talk to a computer,” he gives as an example, “They’ve seen the Google self-driving cars. My views are not radical anymore.”
Ray Kurzweil is credited with coining the term ‘singularity’ in terms of artificial intelligence. The entire industry uses that term now to describe the act of combining humans and robots into one being. Kurzweil says it is inevitable and definitely in our future. He would know too. As a leader of Google’s AI team, he’s working with some of the best and brightest the world has to offer.
The report explains how over the past few years, Google has been buying up one AI company after another in a race to be the first, ‘His decision to work for Google came after the company acquired a host of other AI developers, from the BigDog creators Boston Dynamics to the British startup DeepMind.’
Don’t trust the robots
One account from just two days ago that didn’t pull any punches was from Business Insider. Having contacts in the AI developer world, the authors were surprised at how uncomfortable the industry insiders and developers were with discussing their work. They humorously explain that if a robot doesn’t have a gun in its hand and a colorful mission to accomplish, nobody cares.
What the reporters did find out though is that even inside the AI developer world, the engineers tirelessly working to create it are warning, ‘the time to have a serious discussion about the development and regulation of robots is now.’ The report picks one example to reinforce their point. In Japan, they already have competitions where advanced robots literally kill each other. Marry that up with a manmade brain and all its emotions, jealousies and hatreds and we’ve got a problem.
The account from the Independent also quotes author and physicist Louis Del Monte explaining that when robots do finally pass humans in intelligence in a few decades, it probably won’t result in a Terminator-like human-robot war. He explains that even today, we depend too much on them and the help and ease they provide like robot prosthetics, robot warehousing, robot calculating. Del Monte says that if there’s going to be a war, it won’t be the humans that start it. It’ll be the AI-powered robots who realize they share the Earth with man and are direct competitors for power, resources and the top of the food chain.
The account quotes Frank Tobe, editor of Robot Report, who seems to be wise beyond his years when he said, “It’s time to decide whether future robots will have superpowers - which themselves will be subject to exponential rates of progress - or be limited to services under man’s control. Superman or valet? I choose the latter. But I’m concerned that politicians and governments, particularly their departments of defense and industry lobbyists, will choose the former.”
Ask Isaac Asimov
Robot and AI developers always revert to the same disclaimer - the robots will have parameters, defined by humans. In short, they will become whatever we allow them to become. And in today’s world, the nearly self-thinking robots have taken millions of our jobs and murdered hundreds of thousands of our fellow humans with self-guided missiles and other advanced warfare technology, all at the direction of multi-national corporations, the industrial defense complex and power-hungry leaders.
It’s hopeful, but not very reassuring, that nearly the entire robot and AI community has always accepted the 1942 ‘Three Laws of Robotics’ written by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov as the self-imposed law of their craft. Read Asimov’s three laws of robotics and see if you think America’s corporations can abide by them:
The part that many AI developers and robotics engineers seem to forget is that by the time 2029 gets here, the AI-powered robots won’t care what we think. They’ll be in charge, and worst of all, they’ll know it.
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