WEB & TECH / DEC. 21, 2014
version 3, draft 3

Will 'A.I.' Kill Us All?

A.I. is the abbreviation for Artificial Intelligence or the ability for cognitive processing by an artificial construct. As technology inches closer and closer to machines with consciousness this might finally be our undoing as the human race. According to Stephen Hawking, famous theoretical physicist, once A.I. is able to redesign itself it will turn into a runaway train. A runaway train that will plough through humanity until the point of decimation.

Terminator

In 1984, James Cameron made the biggest baddest action movie of that decade. He also directed Titanic so genre consistency isn’t his strong suit. The reason I bring this up is because in the movie a self-aware Artificial Intelligence system named Skynet was created by the military to control armaments to minimize human error when using them (I’m talking about Terminator by the way and not Titanic). When the A.I. went rogue the people monitoring it tried to shut it down, which was considered a threat by Skynet and proceeded to nuke most of the population into irradiated dust. Any survivors were rounded up and used as slave labor to build more Skynet systems.

Now think cloud computing, where you connect to the internet to find both your application (software) and data. GMAIL is based in cloud technology; everything you need is in the cloud. This is essentially the internet though and if you had a self-aware “system” it could reproduce itself infinitely and move locations ceaselessly. Without being able to accurately estimate, there are roughly 75 million servers online that it could jump around on.  It would be impossible to isolate and exterminate. Taking all that aforementioned information into consideration, it’s ironic how forward-thinking the name Sky-net was in the movie.

Investment/ Funding

Most major technology companies are currently investing hundreds of millions of dollars into A.I. in an attempt to optimize their services and products. The biggest amongst these investors are Google, IBM (which already has an A.I. system named Watson), Microsoft and Facebook which are all looking very eagerly into A.I. technologies and start-ups. Investors want results, and when combined with the rapid decline in the price of hardware, it could create the perfect storm for unbridled development.

Hardware Capabilities

A necessary prerequisite for A.I. development is hardware that is able to process multiple parallel processes, not unlike the human brain. Every time you sat in your basement and played a video game you inadvertently brought humanity closer to its end. GPUs are powerful graphic processing units that at the moment (with appropriate software) can recognize 88% of words spoken to them in English compared to 96% recognition humans are capable of. They also have the ability to recognize thousands of objects including cats (that would explain all the cats on the internet). This need for increased processing power was the simple result of video games requiring rapid transitions between thousands of pixels per second. So every time you gripe that graphics aren’t ‘real’ enough, you push humanity towards annihilation.

Their already taking our jobs

The preliminary foundation for a robot assisted A.I. takeover of humanity is already in the works. Thousands of jobs and many professions have been eliminated or currently considered redundant due to technology. The poster child of these changes is of course the factory worker replaced by gleaming single armed robots that we’ve seen way too much stock video of during the news. Drones have been a hot topic for a few years now due to the ethicality of using them remotely and they’re not even automated yet. 

Are you pro A.I. or anti A.I.? Is there another technology or global problem you consider more of a threat than artificial intelligence? Then let me know in the comment section. I promise I will understand 96% of it.

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