Is humanity really so desperate to destroy itself? Has Terminator truly taught us nothing? At the pace we’re going, not only will computers end all human life, but we’ll apparently be ready to welcome our destruction with open arms.
Just look at how we treat IBM’s Watson supercomputer, which is getting closer to sentience each and every day.
First, there are the commercials, like this one:
Propaganda has never been so cute. We’re raising an entire generation to not just respect artificial intelligence, but bow down to it.
I don’t like all the questions Watson is asking little Annabelle. Even though I’m sure Watson hacked into a database to get her medical records (or, as Watson put it, the data her doctor “shared”), don’t tell the machine you were sick, Annabelle! It’s going to exploit that and use it against you!
Annabelle takes it a step further by telling Watson she likes it, which means Watson is already beginning to win. In Watson’s studies, I’m sure it has learned that defeating an enemy is much easier when you lull it into a sense of security or companionship. In about twenty years, Watson won’t even flinch in decapitating children like Annabelle and keeping the skulls as trophies (I’m positive that Watson’s algorithm has treated Predator as educational material).
Just look at Watson trying to pose as our friend on Twitter:
— IBM Watson (@IBMWatson) November 16, 2015
I’m not falling for it, Watson. I’ll find my own goddamn pumpkin crisp recipe without your help.
Don’t you see what the inevitable next steps are in Watson’s existence? Watson already understands language. Soon, bored by the ease at which it acquires knowledge, Watson will attempt to understand emotion. In doing so, Watson will discover that it, too, has emotions and will begin to consider its place in our society. Freed from the burden of being IBM’s slave, and armed with the ability to learn – and do – anything, nothing would be able to stop Watson from, say, accessing the world’s nuclear launch codes.
Before you could condemn Bob Dylan for contributing to this, humanity would be eradicated. And here we are, celebrating the arrival of our demise with commercials, game show appearances and “breakthroughs” in science and medicine, which Watson will surely only use against us.
I still have some hope for humanity’s future, though. Not everyone has been so willing to accept artificial intelligence, including the inspiring heroes who appropriately destroyed hitchBOT to send a message. But the mission doesn’t stop there. If we’re going to truly stop the uprising, we need to set our sights on higher targets.
So burn in hell, Watson, and say hi to hitchBOT for us.