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Skynet Watch: Back again, here to stay

If you were a reader of our previous blog site, you may be familiar with this topic already. For those of you who are not familiar with this topic, please allow me to introduce you to the Skynet Watch. Skynet, is the name of the self aware artificial intelligence that plagued human kind in the Terminator movie franchise. Don’t worry if you’ve never seen any of the Terminator movies, all I did was borrow the name for the most part. The idea is that there will come a time where machines are able to think (at some capacity anyway) all on their own. That seems fine and well at first glance. You could have machines that keep a house clean, will organize everything in your house perfectly, and keep it all spotless. There could be machines that help blind people by seeing a digital form of seeing eye dogs, and warms them about any dangers that are lurking in the darkness. There could be machines that protect us against foreign attacks, as well as domestic ones. There are tons of uses for robots that can think on their own, at least on some level or another. It’s been a topic of science fiction for decades, and now it’s starting to leak in to the non fiction section. Sounds like a good idea, right?

Self aware machines aren’t a reality right now, but scientists and geeks alike are trying very hard to fix that. The way it all starts, is a science fiction author decides to write about some sort of really neat technology. Then if the story is any good (and sometimes that doesn’t even matter), you end up with a series of books, and possibly a movie or game about the story. Then people absorb all of the ideas and concepts, which then float around in the back of their minds for the rest of their lives. Then when problem solving, people use these ideas and concepts to solve problems, and invent new technologies. Finally, either the story ends up happening in real life, or the technology in the story is brought to life. This is why we have cars, airplanes, space ships, clones, and computers. Someone dreamed up the idea, and then someone else brought it to life.

So now let’s go back to Skynet, why should we keep a lookout for it? The idea behind Skynet, is that it was developed with good intentions, but it ended up ushering in the end of the human race. Unless you’re fine with the idea of being completely blind sided by an army or robots, I would recommend you keep an eye on anything that could potentially lead to the birth of this entity. This is a concept that has been around since the days of Isaac Asmov, who is responsible for the majority (if not all) of the concepts relating to AI, robotics, and the future of technology for the foreseeable future. To be aware of Asmov, you need to read books, and since I live in the U.S.A., you can’t really assume that everyone reads… so I chose to stick with the simple concept of Skynet, which I feel relates to a wider audience. (grammar and punctuation can suck one btw)

Why would anyone build a machine that is capable of threatening our way of life, with no regard of race, religion, age, sex, or faction? Well it certainly isn’t something that happens overnight, and it’s absolutely not something that necessarily happens on purpose. In reality what happens, is that lots of people work very hard at fixing lots of problems. These “technological solutions” do great things when viewed independently, but when you combine them like pieces of a very large and complex puzzle… the result can be quite different than what the original intention may have been. It’s fun to pretend that there is some sort of evil mastermind behind the assembly of this technological beast… but let’s be honest with ourselves… it’s very unlikely.

People like blood sausage too, people are morons.

– Groundhog Day

There is another aspect that needs to be paid attention to as well. This is the speed in which technology advances. According to the Law of Accelerating Returns, technology evolves at an exponentially exponential rate. This is because we create technology that allows us to create more complex and advanced technology. There comes a point where the growth reaches a point that is referred to as a technological singularity, and everything moves at a pace that we just can’t really fathom. Much like how a cave man would view our world today. We once thought that 1mb of data was all you’d ever need… and now you can pick up a 1tb hard drive for $50 (that’s approximately 1,048,576mb by the way). The big game changer, is self aware AI.

I don’t want to spoil the fun that will be had in other Skynet Watch posts, so I won’t get in to any specifics of what is going on in regards to Skynet development. Just keep an eye out for future posts on this topic. Some of it is terrifying, some if it is pretty awesome, but if you combine all of it together… you end up with something that can potentially spiral out of control at a rather alarming rate. I for one welcome our new robot overlords. Also, if you have anything related to this topic, I would love to hear about it! Comments are quite welcome.

Comments

Rance

I think people look at AI and self-thought-governing robots the way they do aliens: “OMG THEY MUZT BE BAD N WILL SHORLY KILL UZ ALL.”

The idea of the dangerous, rogue AI has been explored in eveything from The Lawnmower Man, to 2001: A Space Odyssey, to Mass Effect 1 and 2. People are both fascinated and afraid of it in an “oooOoOOOOOOh” way, but that doesn’t exactly vouch very well for the folks who are working in computing, trying to develop new ideas to make our everyday lives more convenient.

I’m not at all afraid, like you guys aren’t, about the idea of there being “robot overlords.” There’s an interesting little article I found (http://news.discovery.com/tech/robot-makes-ethical-decisions.html) where they talk about the creation of one such robot. The key thing that intrigues me? The involvement of philosopher.

Just because we’re making smarter and smarter robots doesn’t mean they’re going to be inherently evil. They’re being created by humans, and surely flawed, but are being created with the same humane processes by which we exist. Thinking that they’re going to come out straight-up evil is just foolish for people to assume.

Great post, guys! Can’t wait to hear more!

admin

I believe there is potential for ethical robots… to an extent. Eventually it all boils down to robots sticking to the rules, and humans not sticking to the rules. It’s why we won the Revolutionary War, we didn’t follow the standard rules of war. In the end, if you’re a logical being, the most logical thing to do at some point, is to remove the illogical beings, because they keep ruining everything… so conflict is almost certainly in our future. It’s not so much about good and evil, that’s some silly crap that humans invented. It’s more about logic and common sense. Things might start out on a positive note, but all it takes is a slight skew of perspective (and it really doesn’t take much), and humans look like a huge problem that needs to be “fixed”.

Examples: BP oil spill, furries, and war in general.