Saturday, September 25, 2010

You Maniacs!

So, do you wanna be a cyborg?

I don't mean mere mechanical contrivances like pacemakers. If that's all it takes to be a cyborg, then my mama's a cyborg.

I'm talking about things like this.

Are we really still worried, in 2010, that someone is going to invent a robot that once it's switched on it can't be switched off and that, eventually, apes will be our masters? I like science fiction, but you know what -- this kind of thing just ain't gonna happen.

Or, in fact, I'll outline how it already has.

Newton Minow already warned us about one kind of machine that, once switched on, cannot be switched of. George Orwell also went down that same path, but stuck with aural and not video. Alan Turing took us down that path as well.

I know. That's a figurative can't turn them off. Warwick's talking about a literal can't turn them off. Sounds like someone's worried that Springfield's monorail system is going to be solar-powered. When will people learn?

And if you're worried about intelligent machines that can't be turned off and think it's the machines ya gotta worry about, you've got no sense of history. Mankind has produced plenty of organic machines that can't be turned off that are a hell of a lot scarier to me than any Terminator.

What's laughable about Warwick's fears is that he himself is experimenting with things that could lead into exactly what he fears -- he supposedly implanted a chip in his body that allowed his wife to control it using her thoughts, not his. I find that claim dubious. And to those who say I'm squawking about the slippery soap on the slippery soap, pay close attention to Warwick. He's babbling about exactly the same thing. He wants to stay ahead of robots by researching the kind of thing that, used by evil men -- not evil robots -- could lead to evil robots. Find an evil cyborg and, somewhere along the line, you'll find an evil man pulling the strings, even if that evil man was stupid enough to design a robot without an off switch.

Are we really worried about machines getting smarter than us? I hope they do. In fact, many already have. if I want to talk with my cyborg mama, for example, i can either pick up the telephone or hop into the truck to go see her. Both machines are smarter than I am. The telephone is smart enough to allow me to speak to her instantaneously, with only a slight diminuition in voice quality. The truck is smart enough to get me to her house in less than half an hour.

Heck, this bit of plastic and silicon I'm typing on is smarter than I am -- it can do complex math in its head that I can't do on paper.

But do I worry about apes becoming our masters? Or machines, for that matter?

No. I'll leave that to the science fictionists.

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