“Man,” I cried, “how ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom!”
– Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Today’s cool thing of the day is definitely cool, but scary, too. It’s the genesis of a scenario we’ve seen played out in countless sci-fi novels and films, has been the subject of international symposiums, and spawned a life’s age worth of individual–and societal–anxiety. I’m speaking, of course, of artificial intelligence. That’s right, guys. Think Terminator, think the Matrix. Hell, think Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick and Frank Herbert. The advent of artificial intelligence has been around for centuries (both Frankenstein and Pygmalion dealt with sentient, man-made beings), but I don’t think it ever seemed as close as right now.
You think I’m being an alarmist? ‘Cause I don’t. Peep that name, ya’ll; these people are not playing.
Though I’ve only read a few of his short stories, I really do think that Isaac Asimov best described the struggle between humans and robots. Movies only focus on the strife between the two; they fail to address the causes of the problem. What humans have to ask each other–what they’ve never asked each other–is: are robots people? No matter that they are man-made. If AI is intelligent, sentient, and able to reason, doesn’t that mean that they are, in fact, people deserving of rights? Doesn’t the mere fact that we created them mean that we must take pains to bestow, and, indeed, allow such rights?
History reminds us time and again that man is phenomenally bad at sharing. That being said, it may be best that we quit while we’re ahead.