Artificial Intelligence (AI) may be defined as “the ability of a computer to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.”
SCIENCE FICTION stories have explored the potential consequences of its existence (both good and bad) for humanity ever since the word “Robot” first appeared in Karel Čapek’s 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) — derived from robota which means “drudgery” in Czech and “work” in Slovak. The concept itself can be traced all the way back to Greek Mythology.
The everyday use of computers and computer apps makes it painfully clear that Artificial Intelligence is here to stay. The controversy over AI is nothing new — but it seems to be getting more attention. Modern scientist Stephen Hawking has said that “the rise of powerful AI will be either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which.”
SCI-FI filmmakers have been warning us about the potential dangers of AI for many years.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Artificially Intelligent onboard computer HAL 9000, calm and soft-spoken, reads lips, rejects being disconnected, and thinks critically to plot survival. Human programming foolishly gives him extreme control and may be responsible for his violence. When HAL lethally malfunctions on a space mission and kills the entire crew except the spaceship’s commander, a way must be found to deactivate it.
Ash, science officer of the Nostromo, breaks quarantine by allowing Kane, a member of the crew, back on board after he has been infected by an Alien life form. It is later revealed that Ash is not human, as he appears, but is a Hyperdyne Systems 120-A/2 android, a sleeper agent who is acting upon secret orders to bring back the Alien lifeform and to consider the crew and the cargo as “expendable”.
David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) a teenage computer hacker, unknowingly connects with a NORAD supercomputer (who responds to its backdoor name Joshua) in control of American missile launch control centers. When he plays a “game” of Global Thermonuclear War with the Soviet Union, military personnel believe attack may be imminent. Racing against time, David and the computer’s creator must convince Joshua to stop the game before launched defense missiles set off World War III.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
When artificial superintelligence system, Skynet, created by Cyberdyne Systems for SAC-NORAD in the future, gains self awareness, humans try to deactivate it, prompting retaliation with a counter nuclear attack (known as “Judgment Day” by future humankind). When recovery of a damaged CPU from the first Terminator makes it possible for Cyberdyne to develop a revolutionary microprocessor that leads to the creation of Skynet, Sarah, young John Connor and T2 must find a way to destroy it.
I, Robot (2004)
In 2035, humanoid robots serve humanity, protected by the Three Laws of Robotics. Del Spooner, a homicide detective in the Chicago Police Department, investigates the mysterious death of Dr. Alfred Lanning, co-founder of U.S. Robotics. Clues lead away from Sonny, an NS-5 robot, to USR’s central Artificial Intelligence computer, VIKI, who has determined that humans, left unchecked, will cause their own extinction. To protect them, she takes control. Spooner and Sonny must shut her down.
Potential dangers involving AI thus include robots and supercomputers who may usurp control over humanity, forcing us into submission, hiding, or extinction. A more immediate concern, raised by Hawking and others: the potential misuse of AI by human controllers.
Artificial Intelligence can be powerful technology. That Power, concentrated in too few hands or the wrong hands, might enable totalitarian governments, malevolent corporations, or terrorists to cause harm, up to, and including the start of World War III. (One example: autonomous weapons — artificially intelligent war machines that “select and engage targets without human intervention.” Such weapons could be used for assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group.)
Astute observers to rapid advances in AI may well wonder if its origins can be traced to reverse engineered technology taken from crashed UFO recovery operations conducted by the U.S. military, with help from private corporations. In recent decades, daily interaction with computers have transformed human society — perhaps changing us as well.
Research shows that reliance on the internet and mobile technology may affect human development by shortening our attention spans, influencing all manner of daily decision making, and decreasing our ability to remember facts.
One potentially sobering possibility — this may all be by design.
A prominent UFO abduction researcher, Dr. David M. Jacobs, author of Walking Among Us, The Alien Plan to Control Humanity, has discovered that coincidentally (or not) during this same period of transformation, many abductees report that we are being prepared for a future event, referred to as “The Change“: when human-like Alien hybrids will be integrated with humans in everyday life — for an eventual takeover of planet Earth.
Potential danger, indeed.