This week, a computer named Watson competed against two of Jeopardy’s all time greatest champions. Watson crushed the competition, but the few answers that Watson guessed incorrectly, would have been an embarrassment if uttered by any human with enough intelligence to even watch TV. By the year 2023, it is predicted that artificial intelligence will surpass human brainpower, and by 2045 will come close to surpassing the brainpower of all human minds combined. There are currently more than 2000 robots fighting wars in the Middle East along side human troops. Hummm, kind of sounds like um…some Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, right? Singularity is the moment when technological change becomes so rapid and profound, it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. Singulartarians are a growing group of people who believe that “Within 30 years, we will have the means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended”. I agree with the basic notion that “introducing a superior life form into your own biosphere is a basic Darwinian error”. Honestly, I also believe that 1’s and 0’s will never be able to seriously replicate what biology is capable of. All computers really do and will ever be capable of, are to construct and execute calculations based on a limited yet immense amount of known information. They use data in order to make predictions, and solve complex equations. The robot or vessel of artificial intelligence acts upon those computed results in much the same way a human would act given the same information. Since robots will eventually be able to compute at currently unimaginable speeds and be able to pull information from a vast quantity of resources, it only makes sense that they will eventually be able to think better or more logically than real people. Humans often have no rational reason for acting the way they do, and their actions are often based solely on instinct and emotion. This is where true creativity and imagination come from….it’s not based on any formula, and to replicate it is simplistic and boring. An attempt to duplicate this human behavior in a robot will only lead to faster and smarter versions of Watson, the Jeopardy robot genius. They’ll win all the money in the end, but when they fuck up…..it will be big time. People have an innate compassion and love that goes way beyond anything the digital world could ever replicate. It’s what led the Beatles to sing something different and write music that changed history. It’s what makes me fall when I’m supposed to jump. It’s how the Harlem Globe trotters beat the robots in that one episode of Gilligan’s Island (if you know what I’m talking about, then KUDOS to you). Lets just get the robots to mop the floor and make our coffee. Really, I love technology as much as the next guy, but who’s going to step up to the plate and be our John Conner? Take time to turn off your phone, go outside, walk in the forest, play in the waves, grow a garden, doodle in your journal, and disconnect yourself from that mess of microchips for a bit. Okay, it has been written, we can all live happy lives now. Don’t listen to me….I’m not you. Be Human, be you.
Any quotes or facts in this blog have been taken from Time’s February 21, 2011 issue…article 2004, The Year Man Becomes Immortal, by Lev Grossman. Please go read it if you get a chance