“Like people including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have predicted, I agree that the future is scary and very bad for people. If we build these devices to take care of everything for us, eventually they’ll think faster than us and they’ll get rid of the slow humans to run companies more efficiently.”
So spoke Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in an interview with the Australian Financial Review. And he’s not alone. It seems everyone from renowned scientists to prominent science fiction authors to SF moviemakers all believe that the “robopocalypse” is nigh, and it spells doom for the human race. Though maybe it’s significant that we haven’t heard the same from programmers or psychologists over the years… because, so far, no one has managed to come up with a compelling reason why AI would want (or even need) to take over the world… as I’ve said myself in the past.
Regardless, I’d like to address the other half of that comment for the moment: The idea that humans, once the AIs take over, would subjugate us or just plain wipe us out. Wozniak himself described humans post-robopocalypse as the “pets” of computers… and implied that that was a bad thing. I strongly challenge that idea. Continue reading
A recent Facebook post about the long-delayed Elio mini-car started a discussion about the dearth of similar vehicles out there for American drivers. Many of these cars have been pitched for over a decade, but just can’t seem to get the financing or support to actually achieve serious (or, in most cases, any) production and distribution. And that’s a shame, because they are missing what may be their only opportunity to shine… before it will be too late for them to run on American roads at all. Continue reading
Two days ago, I wrote about the Consequences of our actions, and how they are often more important than the initial actions themselves. Yesterday, I wrote about what makes humans Special, their ability to learn so much about our world and apply that knowledge to super-humanize ourselves.
Which means now it’s time to apply those lessons into Responsibility… or Onus. Continue reading
It’s hard to give up the notion that you’re not special. Emma Roberts, in her Metaverse post Are We Losing Our Ability to Be Human? believes our “specialness” is the thing that makes us human; that we have souls and spirituality, that we have consciousness and are aware of our place in the universe. And she is concerned that, as machines and artificial intelligence take over more and more of our world and our lives, we will begin to lose touch with what makes us human… and special.
“…I think that without the feeling of spirituality or individualism or ‘self’ we are just another biological being and that’s pretty damn soul destroying.”
It’s gotten to be a bad joke, recently re-highlighted by the “discovery” that some of the new Samsung Smart TVs have cameras and microphones that could detect the goings-on in front of them (to allow better control of the TV): When people saw the “terms and conditions” warning that any criminal or terrorist-related visuals or words picked up by the TV could potentially be forwarded to the authorities, the web-verse immediately invoked George Orwell, and decried that “1984 was here.”
And as it happened, the spirit of George Orwell reared up out of his grave and said: “Oh, shut up and let me get some sleep already!” Continue reading
The trigger has been pulled: Verdant Skies is now a printed book, available now at Createspace and at Amazon.com.
This is my first book to see print (if you don’t count the occasional PDF that someone has printed here or there)… and it was worth enough work to make everything as perfect as possible, that the text didn’t just get re-proofed, it earned a third revision. So, it’s not only a “first time in paperback” edition, but it’s new and improved, to-boot!
If you’re one of those people who want your fiction printed—or you know someone else who does—now’s the time to check out this great novel. If it looks good, let me know… that, and sales, will dictate whether I’ll continue this trend with Verdant Pioneers, the sequel to Verdant Skies, and with any of my other books.
Nilofer Merchant, in a TED guest post from 2014, described his belief that the technological world of Star Trek has largely overtaken us (obviously, we’re not visiting other planets yet)… and the best news of all, that we should expect to reach the social world of Trek within 30 years. And how could we not want to achieve Gene Roddenberry’s dream of a utopian Earth and bright, bright future?
Yet, there’s one thing that Nilofer neglects to mention, and it only happens to be the one absolutely non-negotiable thing that we on Earth must accomplish, or we won’t see Roddenberry’s utopia in 30 years, 300 years or 3,000 years.
In short, we need universal guaranteed minimal living conditions. Continue reading
Mitochondrial donation. These two words are poised to create a firestorm of controversy around the world, as some governments are considering allowing parents who use in-vitro techniques to have children, to allow mitochondrial DNA from a third donor to replace some of the existing mitochondrial DNA in the egg. Based on a procedure called cytoplasmic transfer pioneered in the 1990s, the method is intended to prevent the passing on of inherited and incurable diseases through mitochondrial DNA, which is carried from mother to child.
But naturally, when most people hear anything about this, they picture Khan:
And they predictably freak out. Are we at the doorstep of the long-feared eugenics program? Continue reading
Michael Crichton (1942-2008) was a prolific author, screenwriter and director for TV and movies, but it sometimes surprises me that he has become remembered almost entirely for a very short list of accomplishments… specifically, Jurassic Park, Westworld, The Andromeda Strain, and sometimes ER (of which he was creator, writer and executive producer).
But this rare creator not only penned many incredible novels besides the few most people think of, but he was the writer/director of some low-budget movies that so beautifully define him to me, including The Terminal Man, Runaway, and Looker. His bigger-budget movies, such as Sphere, Rising Sun and Disclosure (also based on books), are also high on my list of movies to watch… when you can catch them.Continue reading