On the Real Clear Technology website, Greg Scoblete warms of the growing number of protests against tech firms. And while, right now, these first waves of protest are "small, uncoordinated and may ultimately fizzle out," he worries that this may be "the early tremors from a massive earthquake" and a "significant harbinger of things to come."
Exactly when (or even if) the Singularity will occur is a matter of debate. Our efforts to build intelligent machines may hit a brick wall. But if progress towards intelligent machines continues unabated, you can be sure the debate regarding a "post-human" future that is currently a peripheral concern (at best) will take on increasing urgency. In such an environment, how will society react? Will people accept the fact that their destiny -- the destiny of their species -- may cease to be in their hands? Will they wish to pursue research that could destroy human life as we know it?
Some futurists think we'll happily welcome the prospect. Ray Kurzweil -- a popular proponent of the Singularity's benefits who is currently directing Google's artificial intelligence efforts -- has argued that since progress toward the Singularity will be incremental, people will be gradually socialized to the idea that the human race as we have known it for centuries will eventually be replaced by human-machine hybrids or simply conscious machines. The Singularity will come bearing gifts. First Google Glass, then Google Eyeballs, then Google Brain, then the uploading of "you" into the cloud for a life immortal, with nary a complaint along the way.
The less optimistic take sees at least some segment of humanity reacting negatively, and violently, against the coming Singularity. This scenario has been anticipated by computer scientists working in artificial intelligence. AI researcher Hugo de Garis for instance, wrote a book of speculative fiction positing a war between "Cosmists" and "Terrans" -- the former devoted to advancing the Singularity and the latter dedicated to stopping it at all costs.
This is also a nice read.
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