Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Robots will turn on us

Probability: 70%

Timeline: 50 years

Yes, I know, this has been a common theme in science fiction for decades now, but unlike the cheery future presented in The Jetsons, the Terminator scenario seems to be getting closer every day.

We have all sorts of unmanned probes and robotics, and computing power increases exponentially every 18 months.

How long until we can build something with the computing power of the human brain? If things continue as they have been, we could be looking at this happening as early as 2025 -- fifteen years from now. You can read why in this very detailed article.

So we'll have the computing power. But why would we program it to be able to make its own decisions? Doesn't that sound dangerous?

We already have lots of software that make certain decisions much faster (and often better) than humans. Think about airplane autopilots. They take inputs from the real world, evaluate them, and translate them back to outputs on the real world again.

Even still, why would a mechanical intelligence turn on us? There are a few ideas here.

At current, this outcome seems more likely than not, unless some other disaster sets back technological progress significantly.

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