recommended reading

The consequences of machine intelligence

Andrea Danti/Shutterstock.com

The question of what happens when machines get to be as intelligent as and even more intelligent than people seems to occupy many science-fiction writers. The Terminator movie trilogy, for example, featured Skynet, a self-aware artificial intelligence that served as the trilogy's main villain, battling humanity through its Terminator cyborgs. Among technologists, it is mostly "Singularitarians" who think about the day when machine will surpass humans in intelligence. The term "singularity" as a description for a phenomenon of technological acceleration leading to "machine-intelligence explosion" was coined by the mathematician Stanislaw Ulam in 1958, when he wrote of a conversation with John von Neumann concerning the "ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue." More recently, the concept has been popularized by the futurist Ray Kurzweil, who pinpointed 2045 as the year of singularity. Kurzweil has also founded Singularity University and the annual Singularity Summit.

It is fair to say, I believe, that Singularitarians are not quite in the mainstream. Perhaps it is due to their belief that by 2045 humans will also become immortal and be able to download their consciousness to computers. It was, therefore, quite surprising when in 2000, Bill Joy, a very mainstream technologist as co-founder of Sun Microsystems, wrote an article entitled "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us" for Wiredmagazine. "Our most powerful 21st-century technologies -- robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech -- are threatening to make humans an endangered species," he wrote. Joy's article was widely noted when it appeared, but it seems to have made little impact.

Click here to read the entire story at The Atlantic.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.