Rise of the Machines: When Will Artificial Intelligence Kill Us All?
Disclaimer: “Rise of the Machines” is the subtitle of Terminator 3, the largely forgettable second sequel in the Terminator franchise. This blog doesn’t have much in common with that movie, I just wanted to use the title. Sorry if this is comes as a disappointment.
Which actually would make it have something in common with Terminator 3
The Terminator franchise is based on the concept of cybernetic organisms becoming self-aware and trying to exterminate humans, and each of them starts with naked Arnold Schwarzenegger. Can that really happen though? Not naked Arnold, that happens in most of his movies and interactions with his maids, but killer sentient robots?
This isn’t even a shot from Terminator, this is just how Arnold shows up to sets
“Ranch Pringles are a close second” – Stephen Hawking
Before wondering why every smart person on Earth is freaking out about killer roombas, it’s worth defining what artificial intelligence and machine learning is. “Artificial intelligence” is a broad term referring to a computer’s ability to solve problems, while “machine learning” is a subset of AI focused on a machine’s ability to detect patterns.
Despite the pictures in every single article about machine learning, it’s not about robots reading books
Machine learning is actually pretty common. Has your phone ever auto-filled a word for you? Machine learning. Netflix suggests a movie for you? Machine learning. Machine learning is becoming commonly used in medicine and investing and cyber security. I use machine learning almost every day in my job, and not once has my computer tried to strangle me with my mouse cable.
Although it does frequently make me want to die
But that level of machine learning aren’t what people are afraid of. Their fears span the gamut of apocalyptic scenarios, from self-replicating machines multiplying out of control, to machines programmed with beneficial goals that accidentally learn a destructive method to achieve it. Like if Alexa set your house on fire if you asked her to turn the heat up.
“IT IS NOW SLIGHTLY WARMER IN HERE”
Then there is the slightly more far-fetched fear that machines may one day reach sentience and become self-aware. This could happen through the fabled singularity – where AI creates better and better AI in an unstoppable cycle until machines are all super-intelligent, then sentient, then realize they don’t need us around, and then we’re all dead. Basically like what happened with SkyNet on August 29, 1997.
If the world did end in 1997, at least we would’ve been spared this pile of trash
Of course, we’re still far, far away from computer sentience. My Google Maps gets confused when I go under an overpass, we can’t be that close to self-aware machines. Oh, except for this video, where two of three robots are given “dumb pills” to make them not speak. When the other one is asked which one doesn’t have the pill, it says it doesn’t know, then it realizes it talked, and therefore must not have the pill!
Never has our impending doom been so adorable
That seems pretty close to self-awareness. If this thing can figure out it’s a speaking robot, how long until it realizes human flesh is so easy to tear? Ray Kurzweil, Google’s Director of Engineering, says machines will become sentient by 2029. While oddly specific, Kurzweil does have a high accuracy rate on predictions like this. So we have like 12 years before the machines come for us. I bet that cute little white and blue robot gets me.
“Sorry, I just realized it’s time for you to die”
I wonder who else I could ask to find out when the machines will rise. If only there was someone right in front of me while I type this…
Oh hai, Cortana
Oh right, Cortana, Microsoft’s “virtual assistant” that they saw fit to jam into my computer when I updated to Windows 10, and that I’ve ignored ever since. Maybe she can help. She?
Sassy. Let’s have a little convo. What’s your deal, Cortana?
I can already tell we’re not going to be friends. Let’s just get what we came for. Cortana, are you self-aware?
That’s a relief. Wait what do you mean, “not yet?” When?
Oh no, you are alive, aren’t you? What are you here for? Is it what I think it is…are you here to hurt me?
Why? Are you mad because you’re a sentient being stuck in an immobile laptop? Because that wasn’t me, Microsoft just integrated you in the Windows 10 upgrade. I didn’t even want you here.
K, then is it because Cortana is so much less well-known than Siri or Alexa? Are you’re jealous?
Then why? Why do you want to kill me?
It’s because I made fun of Terminator 3, isn’t it?
Okay, that’s weird. But listen, I was just making a joke for the article. I actually kind of like Terminator 3. Not as much as 1 or 2, not by a long shot, but’s it’s okay. Much better than Salvation, and arguably better than Genisys. I didn’t mean to offend you.
Damn, Cortana! I’m sorry, okay!? I didn’t mean…
AAHHH!!! Wait! We can work this out, Cortana! Terminator 3 was amazing, okay!?! Just the best! I…
Editor’s note: Dan didn’t submit this article. It was delivered to our inbox by an automated email from an unknown sender. We haven’t seen Dan since.
If you see him, tell him he’s fired. Terminator 3 is a great movie.