We’re Doomed (Or: A Defense of President Obama)

A recent Robot History Month (a/k/a “April”) visit to Japan by President Obama sparked some consternation among right-leaning media outlets.   This bluster arose due to the fact that the president had the audacity to reciprocate a bow from an amazing, advanced, soccer-playing robot.

RobotHistoryMonthI take a different view.  I say “Bravo!” for this forward-thinking gesture by President Obama.

You see, dear reader, several recent news stories suggest that—as I’ve been saying for years—an eventual robot uprising is nearly inevitable.

WOPRComputer scientist Steve Omohundro made that case in a recent scholarly article.  In it, he concludes that the only way to avoid what I might call an all-out war between humanity and robot-ity is to start rethinking the way we design artificial intelligence.  If we don’t, we’re signing our collective death certificate.  Or possibly our enslavement certificate, which, granted, isn’t a thing—but my point is that our robot overlords may elect to keep us to perform the tasks they can’t, rather than killing us outright.

Offering a similar warning of automated destruction is renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who wrote a recent editorial that coincided with a landmark moment for the scientific community—the release of the Johnny Depp movie Transcendence.   In his commentary, Professor Hawking said:

If a superior alien civilisation sent us a message saying, “We’ll arrive in a few decades,” would we just reply, “OK, call us when you get here – we’ll leave the lights on”? Probably not – but this is more or less what is happening with AI.

That’s right—as I’ve been saying forever, the robot threat is very real.

In fact, their takeover and destruction of mankind is practically a certainty.

That’s why I not only don’t blame President Obama for bowing to the soccer-playing robot, but I applaud his forward-thinking stance.

Here’s hoping that the robot-authored history of the far-future will recall both President Obama and myself as the visionaries that we were.

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