I don’t know about you but remember watching the third Terminator film when Skynet became self-aware? The attack drones began hunting humans and firing missiles and guns at us? Killer drones were so sci-fi, weren’t they?
That initial scene gave me the creeps, it was the first time we saw machines with what appeared to be a vicious streak. Unstoppable in sufficient numbers to matter. We were simply outnumbered. How does that compare to the here-and-now, let alone the near future? We have seen numerous reports of robots with cameras as small as flies, we have seen flying devices that carry serious firepower from machine guns to targeted as well as non-specific bombs. If you think about it, if you gave them some form of neural connectivity and the right programming, they will be able to conduct surveillance without us either seeing them or being able to target them. Finding our weaknesses they can call in the heavier versions with weaponry we cannot resist. We would become defenceless against our own technology.
So how close are we to this form of reality? The answer, I believe is only a quantum leap away. It is already well-established that technology, according to Moore’s Law, doubles in capacity year on year. At some point soon we will have the processing capability and machine language to make the leap between commanded machine movement and autonomic capability, perhaps even thought within the machine – the ubiquitous ghost in the machine.
Right now we are arming them, giving them stealth and giving them minute, undetectable size. I’m just waiting for the moment when some genius decides an autonomous system is necessary for the complete and effective deployment of this arsenal against our enemies, whoever they may be. The sad thing is that rumblings in this direction are already being heard. We may despise the image of cowardice when we understand that someone in America perhaps, sitting in complete safety, can launch a strike thousands of miles away to ‘surgically’ take out a specific enemy based upon some form of intelligence, but do we really want machines to ‘decide’ on who is the enemy or not? I also remember ED-209 in Robocop; apparently it knew what it was doing as well. I know it was fiction but we all know how much fiction become fact.
If reincarnation is real, then do we really want to be reborn into the future? Perhaps not.