Will Machines Take Over The World?

Contrary to perhaps how my classmates asked themselves this question (who are also answering this question — no, it’s not just a coincidence 30 people happen to write a blog about machines taking over the world in a matter of a few days), I first encountered this question in the book titled Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore (I recommend it). In this book, Kat, a super smart developer working at Google asks the main character (holy cow — I forgot his name!) whether he believes in the Technological Singularity.

Neither our main character, Clay (I remembered!) nor I were familiar with this idea. Now to the rest of you who also remain unfamiliar with this concept, the Technological Singularity refers to the hypothesis that “the invention of artificial superintelligence will abruptly trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization.” (According to the Wikipedia page on Technological Singularity). With the development of GENERAL artificial intelligence, a computer (broadly speaking) may be able to re-make and reconfigure itself to continuously improve itself. Sadly, us humans are not nearly as good at re-making and improving ourselves (think of how long it took you to truly master the art of communicating with other humans — I admittedly still have trouble sometimes).

At first, though, I was still pretty skeptical. Alright — people thought the world was going to end in 2000 and then again in 2012 (according to the Mayans), so sure, now people think that computers are going to take over the world when they become superintelligent. I’m moving on with my life.

Then…I started really looking into the arguments for this Technological Singularity — as any righteously curious student would do. I turned as a first step, of course, to Wikipedia. On the Wikipedia page, you can look at some of the claims made by highly regarded scientists (in particular, Kurzweil) that generalize Moore’s Law. In other words, the processing power per $10000 increases exponentially, and therefore the advancement in technology in general, and in artificial intelligence in particular, also increases exponentially. Then, I turned to one of my favorite blogs — Wait, Wait, but Why. This blog takes curiosity, throws it in a blender with some humor, some artistry, and (BOOM!!!) out comes a most fantastical blog!

Wait, wait but Why takes a serious look at the Technological Singularity and describes our human progress with the following graphic:

In other words, all the changes that the world has seen are minute compared to what is about to happen in the (very!) near future.

In fact, according to my friend from Wait, Wait but Why, the average time that most scientists believe we will reach this Technological Singularity in by 2040. I will be 50 years old.

Being an optimist, I believe anything is possible, not excluding, of course, the Technological Singularity. The CRAZIEST part, however, is that I will be alive by some of those prediction years. So, I will either see the decade of 2040 pass by like the year 2000 or the year 2012, OR I will be blown off my socks!!! Either way, only time will tell. Personally, I plan to smell all the flowers I can between now and then.