They say it's never a good idea to mention current events in an article because it dates them. There are however two good reasons why I'm going to punch this rule hard in the face.
- This week the Prime Minister of the UK triggered Article 50, which means the UK is leaving the E.U. (European Union)
- ‘THEY’ say a lot of things.
I've chosen to mention rule one because it highlights something fundamental to this article. As I type, the value of Sterling is bouncing all over the internet, Polish workers are Googling the German for Bricklayer and the proverbial doom merchants are out in force with their 'end is nigh' memes.
This is the key to being unafraid of the AI Apocalypse... or the A(i)pocalypse as I call it. (Yeah... I went there.)
The biggest reason not to be afraid of the machines is this - we've been here before.
At the apex of every epoch shift, there is a pivotal point. At this junction, the single common denominator is always uncertainty. We as a species are not good with the unknown. You'd think by now some inbuilt Darwin inspired super alarm would have sprung up to help us identify exactly what is going bump in the night. Alas, if such a gift exists, it's not quite there yet.
For anyone who until recently thought it was nothing more than a few lines of code, AI is the next contender in a long line of disruptive technologies. Advances which thus far we have survived. You won't remember the Luddites or the Saboteurs. But their deliberate destruction of industrial machinery in an attempt to prevent the loss of factory jobs enshrined their names into our language. You may remember the Y2K alarm though, the story went like this... Bill Gates and his ‘get rich quick scheme’: Microsoft had never considered the possibility his creation would have to contend with the approaching millennium. Sometime later, someone, somewhere worked it out and like that... a new apocalypse was upon us. The media took great delight in telling us that due to a simple administration error when our computers counted down to the millennium, aeroplanes would fall from the skies and pacemakers and life support machines would fail killing thousands. Yet, as we queued up to buy overpriced drinks in overpriced club and waited for the end of the world... the moment came and went without a hint of a whimper.
Technology does make an impact, but while there were casualties on the shop floor, progress marched on. The quality of life went up and those replaced by the looms, the mills and Windows 2000 moved on, learned new skills and got on with the rest of their lives. We'd know this too if it wasn't for another pesky phenomenon...The press hates happy endings.
“Today was a lovely day, we fed the ducks,” ran a headline in no newspaper ever…
There's another good reason why newspapers, the media and the internet as a whole is currently full of gloom and doom; good news is bad for business.
We all know the dangers of AI. We've all heard the stories of our manmade end for as long as we've put science and fiction in the same sentence. These days however, the voice of doom is factual. We are longer no influenced by the prophecies of Sarah Connor, Neo and Doctor Who, but rather those of Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking. The prophets may have changed, but their message remains the same: AI will out think us, learn to fear us and ultimately overthrow us.
It's an old story and such a favorite that it even has it's own category on NETFLIX. The truth, of course, is quite different and for one simple reason: We're just not that important. If AI ever does begin to evolve at an exponential level, the last thing it’s going to worry about is the ants in the hills below.
But let's not leave on a low... here's some of the good news we never get to hear...
Did you know that Giant Pandas and Manatees are no longer considered endangered, and that for the first time in 100 years wild tiger numbers are on the up? You see, when we put our mind to it, we humans can achieve some pretty awesome stuff. But best of all, someone has created a robot whose purpose can only benefit all mankind. The robot, known only by its twitter handle @burnedyourtweet, has one purpose. It prints out tweets by President Donald J Trump, sets them on fire and dumps the remains in an ashtray. According to The Huffington Post, the philanthropic little droid is becoming so popular it's in danger of breaking the internet...
If the little robot does go viral and starts sapping your bandwidth, then give us a shout...we may be able to help.