Artificial intelligence is always a hot topic among science fiction fans. Can anyone argue that although 2001: A Space Odyssey’s Hal has good intensions, he no less presents an interesting story albeit that of a sociopathic nightmare? Additionally, a discussion centered on machines with humanlike attributes could not be complete without Sonny, I, Robot’s anthropomorphic servant droid who proves a heart within a machine is worth saving.
How close has humanity come to creating a true representation of itself within a computer system?
Take Apple’s Siri. As creepy as it sounds, Siri is the digital equivalent to a best friend. Ask it a typical question such as “How are you?” and it will respond, “I’m fine. Thanks for asking.” Should a user of the device choose a male voice to represent the virtual assistant, things begin to sound eerie and familiar. Hal would be proud.
With Apple’s iOS 9 coming out this September, Siri will be able to predict what a user will ask next. For instance, if a user would like directions to a particular address, Siri will also suggest places to dine and a place to lodge, should a user be so inclined to do so.
The logic behind Google Maps is already there. It takes it a step further by providing alternate routes, the ability to avoid toll roads and traffic conditions.
Artificial intelligence couldn’t be better. But what is the cost of all this AI?
Years prior to the year 2000, computer experts warned of an upcoming digital apocalypse where computers would choke and destroy humanity. Obviously, that didn’t happen. The Y2K bug was to usher in a second dark age where electricity would be scarce and hospitals would be full. Again, it didn’t happen. However, what it did prove was just how fragile computer networks were at the time and what precautions governments and companies took to prevent an utter catastrophe from occurring.
Could it happen again, only this time for real?
Given the world’s reliance on electricity, would it be hard to imagine a world hit by a global scale blackout? It happened in 2003 on the northeastern seaboard. In August of that year, the lights went out for several days leaving 50 million people without power. The “glitch” started with a tree branch in Ohio spreading power surges through the grid all the way up across the border to Ontario. With all the safeguards in place, the incident still brought two nations to a halt.
How difficult would it be to think of a time when a routine event couldn’t cause the downfall of the entire global infrastructure? Looking at it a different way. What’s to say that in an effort to protect the grid, artificial intelligence wouldn’t attempt to circumvent safeguards to preserve life on this planet?
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Is artificial intelligence too much intelligence to control our lives? Should we allow it?