“Billions” of megalomaniacal humanoids could ambush the entire world and go for a global takeover, according to people who worry about these things too much.
With so many companies turning their attention to building these infernal machines that look more and more like their human counterparts, it might be only a matter of time before pioneering roboticists unwittingly unleash the end of the world as we know it.
The inevitability of such an outcome, as laughable as it may seem to some people, is actually being seriously contemplated by political and business leaders alike.
Only last week, Rishi Sunak, prime minister of the UK, interviewed Tesla owner and purportedly the richest man in the world Elon Musk, who is also developing a humanoid robot which he says will sell in greater numbers than his cars and make more money.
Both leaders appeared to agree that artificial intelligence will eventually become an existential threat to ordinary flesh and blood human beings.
The only way out for humans could be to merge with the machines and have chips surgically inserted into your brain and into other parts of your body. This is something that’s already happening, and the trend is called “transhumanism”.
But even if you do that, there may still be no escape from the new Zion-like world – as in the Matrix films – that will probably be required for autonomous machines such as humanoids to gather or ingest information about their surroundings.
All you’d be doing is merging with it and, thus, becoming a small cog in a gigantic machine that you have absolutely no control over, just an illusion of power perhaps – which is more than enough for most of us, thank you very much – just let us live our godforsaken lives in peace, for god’s sake.
To his credit, Musk did try and allay public apprehension about AI and robots taking over the world by suggesting that the machines will do more good than harm.
According to Business Insider, Musk told Sunak: “On balance, I think that the AI will be a forceful good (sic), most likely, but the probability of it going bad is not zero per cent. So we just need to mitigate the downside potential.”
It’s likely BI meant to say “force for good” rather than “forceful good”, but what do we know? We think it’s a typo. Isn’t it?
For the geeky numbers guy Sunak, the point of interest may have been what effect AI and robots will have on the economy, which he fancies himself an expert in.
Musk reaffirmed what many people believe – that AI and robots will indeed take over all jobs that humans currently do. “There will come a point,” said Musk, “when no job is needed – you can have a job if you want for personal satisfaction, but the AI will be able to do everything.”
This kind of growing belief is leading political leaders to seriously consider two things that may have been dismissed in the past as being slightly ridiculous: a tax on robots and AI; and a universal basic income. Both these ideas have been around a few years, and are being debated and tested in various countries.
Another pioneering technologist who is building humanoid robots, Figure AI CEO Brett Adcock, didn’t do much to calm increasing nervousness about powerful global forces which could sweep humanity off the face of the earth.
In an article published on Fortune’s website, Adcock says: “If we can just get humanoids to do work that humans are not wanting to do because there’s a shortfall of humans, we can sell millions of humanoids, billions maybe.”
Some research has shown that people – meaning, us humans – tend to prefer robots that do not look human because the human-looking ones creep us out a bit.
But nontheless there is a growing number of companies hell-bent on building ultra-realistic humanoid robots, including some hugely well-funded corporations such as SoftBank Robotics, and Tesla of course.
While it is questionable whether there is currently a massive global market for humanoids, really, in 20 or 30 years’ time, we’ll be wishing the internet hadn’t been invented.
Just about every sci-fi writer and filmmaker has warned us what will happen if machines decide what’s good for humanity. And you know what that “good” is.