Okay Maybe the Robot Apocalypse Will Be a Good Thing

first_img I’ve got what some would describe as an irrational fear of AI and robots in general. I love them; they’re often my favorite characters in fiction (especially Mass Effect’s Legion), but they’re also profoundly unsettling. Everyone in the know, namely scientists and big thinkers like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are absolutely afraid of the rise of AI. They’ve warned us many times, and yet, we keep taking steps towards making our nightmare scenario a reality. Why?Well, it’s because we’re bad at things and we want help, honestly. Think about it, even before everyone became totally reliant on GPS and digital maps, you were never an expert in getting from A-to-B. Our brains are just poorly equipped to handle the labyrinthine systems of roads we’ve created, and even worse at adapting to changing conditions on the fly. We don’t get automatic updates on car wrecks, for example, so that we can change courses and avoid the worst traffic. We also cause a lot of crashes — through incompetence, inattentiveness, or foolishness. Computers don’t have those problems. They can react almost perfectly to just about any situation, and they’re constantly getting better to help us. And we want our lives to be easier. Over thousands of years, we’ve tried to, generally speaking, stabilize our lives. Technology helps separate us from the whims of nature and allows us to survive just about anywhere on Earth. Why stop? With automated transit, our roads would be much, much safer. With robo-doctors, we’d sacrifice far fewer lives to medical error. We are rapidly approaching a world when our electronic children will be able to free us — all of us — from work and as much suffering as possible. But, what if they could free us from all suffering?The Matrix’s core plot has been rightly derided as one of the laziest in science fiction. If you’re not familiar, machines create a virtual world for humans to work and play within. The film says it’s to turn humans into batteries — a massively distributed power source. But that’s profoundly stupid, at the very least because you’d need to put more energy into keeping people alive than you’d get out. But there’s also the fact that we’ve already invented super-efficient batteries. We call them batteries. We don’t use kittens or cockroaches in place of lithium because that makes no goddamned sense. And the Wachowskis knew this.Their original script had humans enslaved, working as a massive neural network. And that, at least, is a lot more plausible. After all, the latest AI efforts are essentially founded on mimicking how we learn naturally. The movie still treats this outcome as “bad,” though, and I’m starting to take issue with that.2016 was a hot garbage fire of a year. Between celebrity deaths, the irreparable damage to Earth’s biosphere, and, dare I say it, the troubling rise of literal, actual fascism around the globe, I’m starting to think that people are too dumb to be given any kind of power at all. We’re vulnerable to emotional appeals, we easily fall for fake news, just because it satisfies a preconception or manipulates some of the more base facets of our consciousness. Honestly, we can’t be trusted to much of anything. We fuck up politics, fuck up driving, etc., etc. etc. ad infinitum. There was a time when I believed that humans should invest in cybernetics and adopt new economic structures to avoid becoming obsolete when robots start taking over the vast majority of jobs, but I’m having reservations about that too. We’d still have our weak psychology; we’d still be easily manipulated, and broadly incompetent. Would it really be so bad if the machines permanently took over stewardship of the Earth for us? Would staying in a digital paradise be THAT bad? I mean, at the very least, I think we can agree that appointing an AI dictator a la Deus Ex would solve a lot of problems. I mean yeah we’d lose the whole freedom thing, but we already don’t really have that. States like North Carolina, thanks to the hissy fit thrown by its state legislature, are about as democratic as some of the world’s least functional failed states. And, given that so many people have been regretting their votes *cough cough Brexit,* or are so poorly informed thanks to fake news that they don’t really know who or what they’re voting for *cough cough the entire 2016 presidential election* I’m starting to think letting people govern themselves is morally reprehensible. But, so far, we’ve been the only ones around who could actually… you know, run things. Maybe it’s time we start grooming AI to be our successors.We suck at everything, but robots are already better than us at most things. That gap is widening all the time. Let them run the planet. They can’t screw it up any worse than we did. Robot Dog Astro Can Sit, Lie Down, and Save LivesMIT’s AI Knitting System Designs, Creates Woven Garments Stay on targetlast_img read more