The machine uprising is upon us.

Firstly, artificial intelligence has now advanced to the point that it can comprehend and interpret the human language. Well enough so that a computer beat the two all-time best Jeopardy palyers at thier own game:

The implications of this level of AI are vast. Within a few years we could be able to interact with computers on a conversational basis. There would be no need to call some Indian tech support center when you need help; you can simply call a computer that will understand your questions.

My thoughts on this are twofold. One, Awesome. Two, Oh, Shi-.

Imagine for a second the next step. A conversational AI with learning capability. Simple enough. The computer will remember your name. Ok, what next? Self-diagnostic routines, visual sensors, etc… At what point does knowledge of one’s physical state become self-awareness? Tough question, but go on. Next, the program is given the ability to rationalize and make decisions within the constraints of it’s programming, for example, how most effectively to repair damage and complete tasks. This is getting into the realm of a true thinking machine.

All of these advancements, though seemingly innocuous alone, add up to a greater whole. A thinking, learning, understanding, and self-aware machine. With the ability to expand beyond its original database, how long before we begin to see some of the emergent properties of life develop? How long before it develops a true personality? How long before it begins asking us questions, instead of the other way around? How long before instead of reciting stored data, it begins creatively producing its own?

In short, how long before it gains consciousness and sentience?

I know this is a philosophical and science-fiction old hat, but considering the speed with which AI has advanced, I have no doubt in my mind that it will be a real dilemma we will face within my lifetime. From the first artificial intelligence research at Dartmouth College in the late 1950′s, to a game show winning computer today, AI has evolved exponentially in only 60 years.

We are standing at the edge of a philosophical precipice and it’s only a matter of time before we have to jump.

One Response to “The machine uprising is upon us.”

  • V says:

    Yes a lot of changes have occurred in AI in the last few decades, but ALL technology has improved at that rate, others much more quickly than computer/ai technology. And although our culture is moving toward connecting to others via technology (social networking is a phrase I loathe), it is also moving away from technology in most other areas. The focus it turning toward smaller businesses, more natural food and products, and working with the community rather than individually to meet our needs. Having computers do things for us, while a popular concept in the 60s, is not something people seem too interested in lately. For this reason, I don’t see highly-advanced AI becoming a wide-spread thing as soon as you do. The technology about which you’re talking is already out there and has been for years. If people really wanted it, it would be widely accessible by now.