Wednesday, January 4, 2012

No Worry Wednesday: Why I'm Not Afraid of Superintelligent Killer Robots/Computers

So it turns out that defeating the Cylons was a lot easier than we were thinking. We just waited for a server error and then blew them to smithereens. Don't know why we didn't think of that before.

Battlestar Galactica had the Cylons, Star Trek: The Next Generation had the Borg Collective, The Matrix had Agent Smith and his ilk. From Japan, we have the anime series Bubblegum Crisis and its cyberdroids called boomers. It seems like someone is always putting out some movie or TV show or comic book/manga telling us that a hostile takeover by robots or commuters is somewhere in our future. And while I enjoy watching the 1978 Battlestar Galactica on youtube while I'm cooking, I have to say that I disagree with the reality of its core plot element. I'm not worried about superintelligent machines taking over and destroying all human life for the following reasons:

1) We created them- To wax scriptural, Isaiah 29:16: "...for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?" Philosophically, I don't think it's possible for us to create something more intelligent than ourselves.

2) Hackers- And because we can't create something more intelligent than ourselves, that means we can always find a solution. Like hacking. I remember the first time I saw the Borg on TNG, I turned to Malamute and said, "Why don't they just hack into the Borg system and send over a virus?" When I started watching Battlestar Galactica, I had the same question about humanity's epic struggle against the Cylons. Now Malamute and my dad pointed out that when TNG and Battlestar were made, the concept of sitting down at your personal computer and hacking into a system were pretty much unheard of, so it makes sense that computers seemed a lot scarier since most people didn't know you could take them down with a few well-placed key strokes and a virus. The Matrix came out well into the age of the personal computer, but it is one of my favorite movies, so I can excuse its ignoring of the hacking concept. (There's just no excuse for the train wreck the Wachowski brothers made of the sequels. And, yes, Paul from Honors Physics junior year, they were both train wrecks.) But beyond that, having someone sit at a computer and type the robots into submission isn't nearly as dramatic as voyaging valiantly across the galaxy in search of a haven for humanity, catching bullets in a flowing trench coat, or even being chased by a giant cube.

3) Computer errors- Furthermore, we're talking about the same machines that malfunction and sometimes won't recognize bar codes in line at the grocery store, or read your library card, and take forever to load a webpage during a storm. Just yesterday, Google wouldn't let me load an image to my post the first time around. And today auto-save has been malfunctioning, which means every few minutes I get a big message about it and have to reload the page. My confidence in their ability to outsmart us and take over the world is severely lacking. Seriously, if superintelligent killer robots take over the world, we may not even have to hack them with a virus, we could wait for some technology glitch and blast them to kingdom come.

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