Sunday, March 14, 2010

If you're listening to this, you are the Resistance

This post is in continuation of my earlier one on the same subject. Yes, I'm returning to it once again.

I still want you all to consider and think on the scenario presented in said post, but I will not return to it in detail here. Instead, let's look at some much likelier scenarios.

Social robots? Yes, we will most definitely have them. Covered lightly in a recent Popular Mechanics issue (see below image)--an article that also made a bit of a mockery of "doomsday" types such as myself--the one thing robotics gurus can agree on is that we desperately need an ethics code for these machines. But before a few collaborating bot-builders worried about that, they made at least one robot with an "anger response". It appears to be merely an artificial charade, but still. Is it just me, or is something freaky here?


Both Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines cover robotics on occasion (several recent issues have had cover stories on this topic). I recommended them, among other things, to help yourself keep up on such developments. However, both magazines are far too bright and hopeful about it all.* Another reason to read them--the initial reason I first started to do so when I was a teen--is that they also cover new military technologies. This area is also cause for concern today. For example, while UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are a beautiful idea, the advances made along these lines will be (and are) being applied to projects with a more autonomous unit in mind. Social robots, and now robots that fight for us? Not good, not good.

On the other hand, however, I do understand some of the desire for technological progression. Advances in science, engineering, and so on and so forth is hard-wired into man, and often it can be seen as a "Why shouldn't we?" issue. However, with so much at stake here, I'd like to put the brakes on a little and take a look at the furnace before we stick our arm into it.

We will have robots that cook for us, robots that make our cars, clothes, and houses. We will have robots that transport us places, fix our broken television sets, and take out our garbage. I hope, but am not so naively stupid as to think that we will not see robots as invalid care units, surgical units, or even day care and babysitting units. Terrifying.

On a military scale, think about this or a moment: One day I expect to see armies of drones, "led" by human commanders. Gigantic powerhouse nations will find it lazily simple to massacre other nations by such methods. With robotic vehicles, aircraft, ships, and likely even soldiers, what is to stop a cutting-edge army from programming each and every one of its military attack robots to seek and destroy every single living human being inside of a certain area? With GPS, this would be almost unbelievably simple. Am I the only one who thinks about these things? As pessimistic as I sometimes can be, I can't believe that.

I spoke to someone today about this topic. I am not afraid to bring it up, albeit I am pretty much always the only man in the room who would believe in such a thing. However, said person today said, "Rise of the Machines was more than just a movie." Perhaps someone is using his head a little?

This once came up with another acquaintance of mine, via the film I, Robot. The lady considered the film scary, and I affirmed my belief that we will have robots such as, or similar to, those seen in the film. Her response was, "Eeeew!" and a joke was born. A couple of weeks ago, I teased her again about it. "You're weird!", she said.

I merely replied, without missing a beat, "No, I'm just a prophet."

My own words at that very moment surprised me greatly; I felt like I had uttered a cocky and pompous statement and it didn't even feel like my own words (was more like someone had popped it into my mouth, bypassing my brain). No, I am no prophet (I still feel bad about that statement), but I do try to be what one commenter once called me: a watchman. That's one of the main reasons I have this blog. I have a reader base now, and if I think something should be known, I'll broadcast it until I'm blue in the face, and then do it a little more. Dont care to listen? Tough cookies; I'm not shutting up, about this, or about anything I believe is important.

The machines are coming. It would be wise to mount our resistance before it becomes an issue of mortal importance.


*Of late I have decided that my understanding is far too lacking and my detailed knowledge even more inferior; I wish to remedy this, and plan on reading some AI books in the (hopefully) near future. This one caught my eye, considering my musings in the past(one, two, three). In the end I'd really prefer some literature by a guy that is more like John Conner than these oh-so-common Pollyannas, though....


Son3 said...

These two words will save us, my human friend, and they are said with mouth clamped firmly shut:

"Oil can."

If they only had a heart...

olde.fashioned said...

I'm left with only one word: excellent!

Love your title btw. ;-D