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Robots and Our Future, We Need to Talk

Stephen Hawking was on John Oliver’s show recently with a warning:

…Oliver wanted to know about artificial intelligence. Like so many artificial things, it carries with it the idea that it could be noxious or even deadly.

Hawking was very reassuring: “Artificial intelligence could be a real danger in the not too distant future.”

Oh, but surely not in the hands of the nice boys from Google?

Hawking, though, believes that it might be irrelevant what the nice boys from Google think. For your average robot could simply “design improvements to itself and outsmart us all.”

Oliver, channeling his inner 9-year-old, asked: “But why should I not be excited about fighting a robot?”

Hawking offered a very scientific response: “You would lose.”

And then from Elon Musk:


And just Thursday – Beware the Kilobots, they can organize themselves, thankyouverymuch:

Just as trillions of individual cells can assemble into an intelligent organism, or a thousand starlings can form a great flowing murmuration across the sky, the Kilobots demonstrate how complexity can arise from very simple behaviors performed en masse (see video). To computer scientists, they also represent a significant milestone in the development of collective artificial intelligence (AI).


Plus yesterday David Atkins posted this video, and it’s with a sinking feeling you’re thinking maybe they didn’t even need a human narrator for it.

This is real, and it is happening. A lot of people on both sides of the aisle don’t want to believe it’s true, for their own ideological reasons. The Right has a vested interest in unregulated capitalism continuing to provide a stable basis for economic life and magically “creating” jobs from nowhere. Much of the Left has a vested interest in organizing around labor–with very good reason, of course. But the idea that human dignity and self-identity and worth has to come from having a “job” is going to be an antiquated notion within our lifetimes, and increasingly problematic just within the next couple of decades.

He urges us to get involved in the discussions and the decisions for theour future. We need to talk.

Humans Need Not Apply


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