Have you ever been with friends and someone has asked one of those abstract questions to engage everyone in a light-hearted debate. You know the sort of thing, who would win a fight, a shark, or a gorilla. What power would you have if you were a superhero? And the old favourite, just how will the world end.
We used to worry about nuclear holocaust being the primary cause of bringing about Armageddon. Then came climate change. The world would end in some sort of cataclysmic event due to the pollution of the planet. Carbon dioxide would heat the atmosphere up to such a degree, the ice caps would melt causing huge tidal waves and tsunamis. Now people talk about super-bugs wiping out millions of people, due to our overuse of antibiotics. In the future, a simple cut will be enough to induce sepsis and there will be no way of fighting it.
All plausible, and each one is a genuine threat, but ask the so-called “experts”, what they think will be the real cause of our demise and opinion is pretty much shared. A robot uprising. Or, more accurately, artificial intelligence will get to such a point, that computers will be able to make and program even more powerful computers. At some point, their logic will tell them that there is no use for humans and it is then we will be eradicated. It’s the old joke. The factory of the future will be completely automated with no need for people. The only living creatures in the factory will be an old man and a dog. The man is there to feed the dog and the dog is there to make sure the man doesn’t touch anything!
All quite funny, but there is a serious side to the whole thing. Recently, scientists designed two robots, two chatbots, to talk to each other via the internet. The aim was to see if each chatbot could convince the other that they were actually a real person. The program ran for a while, before the scientists pulled the plug on the whole thing. Everything had been going well, until someone noticed that the transcript of the chatbot’s conversation was nothing but nonsense. It was then that someone realised that the chatbot’s had devised their own language. The problem was, no one knew what the hell the chatbots were talking about! Scary stuff!!
Personally, I don’t think it will be AI that finally kills off the human-race. No, I don’t think it will be global warming, or superbugs either. All these things are just the effects. The real cause is us. Human beings, people, mankind. We will be the cause of our own downfall. Without us, there would be no global warming. Without our dependence on drugs, we wouldn’t have created bacteria that we are unable to treat. And if it wasn’t for our desire to make our lives “easier”, to make things quicker and more efficient, we wouldn’t be rushing headlong into the abyss that is artificial intelligence.
But don’t say that we weren’t warned, because we were. Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have both given their opinions of the very subject. Indeed, it was the former that advised that we only have about one hundred years left to do something about climate change. At that point, if it continues to get worse, we will either have to leave the planet, or stay and die.
Still, we don’t have to really worry about being drowned in a cataclysmic flood of biblical proportions. That’s just nonsense. The robot army will have killed us all by then!!