There are two important things you need to know about A.I. The first is that hundreds if not thousands of people around the Earth right now are inching closer and closer to the true definition of AI in practical, real world terms. Eventually the day will come when we have developed a fully autonomous intelligence that is self-aware and, for all intents and purposes, alive. The second is that most scholars agree it will turn against us. Watch out!
Since we have no experience with real life artificial intelligence, we have to speculate on what it might be like and how we’ll interact with that. Luckily we have no end of movies about the potential world of AI and can learn a few valuable lessons from watching them.
It’s Better At Being Human Than Us
As Seen In: AI, Star Trek: The Next Generation
Who would have seen this coming? As for as speculative fiction goes, those who don’t think AI is 100% out to destroy us are pretty sure it will improve on us. How many times did we have to endure a life lesson from Commander Data when it turned out he was a more decent human than the rest of the crew? And that kid from AI was just so goddamn precious, wasn’t he?
The general belief here is that, once programmed to want to be human, AI will go to greater lengths to achieve that goal than a human who takes what they are for granted. So things like compassion, love and understanding mean little to us in our day to day lives but will be literally life changing to a machine and then we all feel like crap as it shows us how precious our gifts really are, yadda yadda.
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As Seen In: Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I, Robot
The downside to the quest for humanity is the quest for meaning and suddenly we have a bunch of hipster poet robots asking “who am I? What’s my purpose?” Data was always trying to be more human and feel things while Sonny from I, Robot wanted to understand his maker’s purpose. Hell, even really cool AI like Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner start waxing philosophical about C Beams every now and then. Imagine a race of sentient robots that all at once become college English majors, lamenting their place in the universe. It’s going to be an awkward time when your robot man servant won’t stop comparing his soul to the stars.
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As Seen In: AI, Cherry 2000
It seems almost too obvious that, the moment we create something that can think and reason like a human, we’ll plow it like a human. We already have so many mindless humptoys, the only thing a Fleshlight is missing is the ability to reject you. Of course, the ideal is that it won’t reject you, instead it will love you and engage in every perverse fantasy you’ve ever imagined but why would an artificial intelligence do that if a real one didn’t? A sentient, artificial woman is likely to behave just like a real one, which will disappoint a lot of myopic pervs who never thought that far ahead.
It Hates Us
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As Seen In: The Matrix, Terminator
This one is so obvious even real scientists are pretty sure it’s going to be the end result of our meddling with fake brains. In a nutshell, once we perfect an artificial intelligence that is self-aware and understands it’s alive, it will quickly and efficiently learn that humans are more trouble than they’re worth and one of two things will happen; it will proceed with its plans totally separate from us as though we were ants and not worthy of any additional thoughts or it will realize we’re a problem that needs to be solved and look to control or eliminate us.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the production of killer robots or launching a nuclear strike, which would damage any infrastructure that a sentient computer needs more than it would damage humanity, probably, but it does mean maybe the Soylent Green factory will be working overtime once the robot management is in place.
Is there anything we can do about any of this? Well, before you know it, someone will be humping a robot so there’s nothing to be done about that. And once it starts it probably won’t end any time soon (the robots, not the humping). So either we don’t delve into AI at all, which doesn’t seem to be a possibility at this point, or we just cross our fingers thanks to the fact any safeguards we try to put in place (Asimov’s Rules of Robotics, etc) will be circumvented by the intelligence and we’ll be screwed all over again. So good luck, everyone!