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When machines rule

Unless the apocaplypse comes first it is an inevitability that machine intelligence will outpace the capabilities of the biological computer we call the brain. Probably in my lifetime. At this writing, I am 38-years-old.

The concern wasn’t so much that a super intelligence that exceeded or even matched human ability was coming – at least not right away.  Rather the immediate concern was that machines are right now making significant advances in several small niches of society that will seriously disrupt human labor demand, war tactics, and civilization as a whole.

Most people spend very little time thinking about the future. That is ill advised but it may also be of comfort to those who fear change. Most people will change the topic when I tell them that technology is going to produce longer lifespans and ability enhancements such as better eyesight, spine replacements, hearts that don’t suffer attacks and eventually backup copies of people. Artificially enhanced breasts, replacement hips and facial reconstructive surgery are infantile advancements. It is almost inevitable that humanity will move out of the human body, at least some of us will. What will we be then? Not human but what? Maybe we will be competing with or ruled by our creations and their offspring.

Machines have already made major inroads against a huge array human abilities and tasks.  Machines are largely making humans in the factory obsolete, as evidenced by the flexpicker and the kiva robots.  Robots are rapidly seeping into the worldwide war apparatus from many different angles, whether it be surveillance machines, armed drones, or advanced strategic planning bots.  From soccer, to surgery, to climbing, the list of robotic achievements goes on and on.  So what does the future hold for man and machine then?

Will machines ultimately match and then exceed human level intelligence?  I guarantee it!  Such a point in our future is called the singularity, and the real question is not if, but when and how it will happen.  Kurzweil and other singularity proponents will tell you that machines will match human intelligence in less than 30 years.  I think that is certainly possible, but it could also take much  longer.  At such a point it is impossible to tell what will happen, hence the reason it is called a singularity.

Worrying about what superintelligent machines will decide to do with the time, resources and CPU cycles available to them does not imbue my soul with a sense of forboding. Why? Because I’m pretty sure that they aren’t going to move to Washington, D.C. and spend all their time trying to micromanage my life. In fact, I’m hoping they’ll kick those do-gooders and busybodies out of their swamp. Bring on the machine intelligences!


Gringo Malo

All this assumes that technology continues to advance. A more likely alternative is that we enter a new dark age any day now.

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