I’ve been wondering what’s going to happen to us as a civilization when the robots take over. No, really. According to Ray Kurzweil, the author of the book in the title to this article, when the day comes that they are smarter than us with their all-knowingness (artificial intelligence, aka AI), where will we, their mothers and fathers, so to speak, fit in, or even will we? That day, known in futurist language, is referred to as The Singularity. It is unsettling to me that Ray is certain it’s (relatively speaking) just around the corner.
Does this bother you? That our entire world as we know it will be turned upside down? That robots will have our jobs; take our blood tests and scan the results themselves, even performing some surgeries (which is already happening), eliminating 80% of the world’s doctors; and, I presume, instead of them being our assistants, as promised in the past, the reality could be that WE are THEIR assistants? And our life spans by then will be up into the thousands of years, if not immortal? Think about that for a minute. Scientists have already harnessed a sea animal’s brain (sorry, I can’t remember which one), immersing it into a tank full of the chemicals the brain needs to survive, and put it to work—repetitive, endless drudgework at that. You know, how we used to use oxen to grind our grain, sending them around in countless circles their whole lives. Do you see what I see? If that brain can still perform chores even tho it is now bodyless, can it still think? Does it have a consciousness? If so, can you imagine thinking human brains being factory-farmed for their brains and forced into slavery for eons? Now, that, would be truly a fate worse than death, and I don’t wish it on animal brains used for the same purpose, either.
No worries, says Ray, in a far more reassuring tone than I can muster. By that time, if I understand correctly where he’s going with this, humans will tap into that artificial intelligence and we will be implanting some little really smart nanoparticles into our brains that will enhance our own intelligence beyond our wildest dreams (or at least make us as smart as our smartphones of the future). Jobs? Won’t need them. Work? Don’t need to. We will be so smart that we will all be rich and can have anything we want. Really? I’m having trouble envisioning this. If everyone’s rich doesn’t the value of money drop dramatically?
And on the sidelines, there are now bioethicists saying Whoa now! Let’s think about this. It’s definitely time to put some limits on research and get regulations in place BEFORE the singularity is reached.
I couldn’t agree more.
But still, my mind, fearful as it rightly should be, keeps giving me some really ugly scenarios that humans at that time will have to deal with - say in the years 2030-2050 or especially by 2100. A timeline that some of you will be around to participate in.
Here is a fascinating glimpse of Ray’s thoughts as he responds to questions:
There are many videos of Ray Kurzweil on You Tube. And, if course, for a little (or a lot) of extra excitement, don’t miss this video from Anonymous on the Singularity: http://www.youtube.com/...
These are the things I think about when politics get me down. Apparently, there won’t even be any politics some day to get us down. The entire world as we know it will no longer exist.
Well, I may not live to participate in this revolution, but in case technology is truly traveling at such incredible speed that I do, I’m going to start preparing for it. I’ve ordered a “Brain Support” supplement not coincidentally found on Ray’s very website. I’m just hoping there aren’t any nanobots lurking inside those pills that are going to sneak into my brain after getting into my bloodstream, and start their remodeling ahead of time!