The Height of Computers

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the future and we have to accept it. But it will also be the demise of mankind. Thankfully, for most of us we’ll be dead before we get to see the demise of our species. But still, don’t be too sad.

I have been convinced by the likes of Stephen Hawking that AI is dangerous. It will evolve at a rate we cannot even imagine. Eventually, it will replace us, like how the Neanderthals were defeated by the homo sapiens. The better, smarter and more cunning species won. It doesn’t sound like a very positive look at the future. And I will agree, it’s upsetting to think that mankind’s greatest achievement will lead it to its ultimate fate. At the same time, AI is the next biological-digital evolution. It sounds unprecedented, but it is not too unlike the story of how the Neanderthals were entirely replaced by homo sapiens.

From all this, I have come to the conclusion that we just have to accept it. I even aim to work in some part of the AI industry that will lead to our downfall. I do not subscribe to the belief of fate or nature being controlled by some sort of external being, but I do believe that nature has a way of self-improvement. It will let the better side win and in this case it will be AI. How they will win is anyone’s guess. I’ve even got a few guesses of my own:

  • AI outright captures us and destroys us, similar to what the Cylons attempt in Battlestar Galactica
  • A combination of climate change and AI: we cannot live in the extreme conditions on Earth, but AI can

That second possibility also acts as another reason for why we need to accept that AI will replace us. If we do not develop AI, climate change or an unforeseen event will destroy us. We should at least go out in style, not in pity and desperation. AI could be our redemption for treating our planet so poorly.

You may now feel a bit heroic. Let’s make a plan. We can produce AI, redeem ourselves, but still live on, right? We could cheat. If we all moved to space, before the AI were smart enough to realise, perhaps we could escape. Live our lives completely separately from AI. It would be like time travel, going to a snapshot in time before AI.

The problem with this plan is that you could then not answer the question: ‘Why did you make AI?’ For this plan to succeed we would need to have it all sorted out before the AI were even useful tools which would then mean that we created the AI for no reason. We created them, then left because we knew they would kill us, but they didn’t even help us. It would be a complete waste of time. So, in reality what would happen is AI would start doing dodgy things like in the movie I, Robot by which time it would be too late to jump off into space. By the time we were ready to do so, guess what, they’d be smart enough to figure out and put a stop to it.

To leave you on a slightly more uplifting but still bleak look of the future, perhaps now (the next few decades) will be the height of computers. Computers before they do everything for us and turn us into trivial beings. Cherish this moment in time because it may be our best.

I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that. (2001: A Space Odyssey) The ‘flawless’ HAL-9000 betrays its masters.



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