"Enter" At Your Own Risk!
Predictions, Prophesies and Possibilities:
To wonder, question and ponder is inherent to our species. Combined with the love of a good story, these traits have resulted in many creative attempts to explain such mysteries as "Where do we come from?" and "Why are we here?".
Like all good stories, the very existence of mankind needs a beginning, a middle and an end. And, when it comes to "The End", the prognostications are myriad.
Most religions supply sinister situations in prophesying an Armageddon in which a wrathful God tires of his miscreant minions and snuffs his most questionable creation with a torrent of fire and brimstone, a particularly pernicious plague or an army of angry angels.
Secular scenarios favor either natural disasters such as Earth's collision with a massive asteroid or the reversal of Earth's magnetic poles, or man-made game-enders such as nuclear war or genetically manipulated viruses.
Increasingly, the religious amongst us can smugly sit back and rely on God's benign neglect because, as our scientific and technological advances outstrip our wisdom to use them judiciously, mankind is thoroughly capable, and likely to, cause its own extermination.
And, while recent generations have fearfully imagined our self destruction resulting from "someone with their finger on the button", the likely-hood is the button will not be labeled "FIRE" or "LAUNCH" but "ENTER".
Although there is no shortage of potential candidates for the title "Most Likely To Succeed" when it comes to causing the extinction of mankind, the most promising is one familiar to fans of "The Terminator" trilogy. The movies are based on the premiss that humanity will become a useless and disruptive entity in a world controlled by computerized machines with artificial intelligence, and the only logical course of action would be mankind's elimination.
The process of developing artificial intelligence (often referred to simply as "AI") is complex and controversial. Opponents warn us that, once a system becomes intelligent enough to find and fix programming flaws, the next step is the system will write programs to improve its own performance. Quickly, in a geometric progression humans could never keep up with, the system will become self-sufficient, with a penchant for survival and no loyalty to its creators.
According to The Singularity Institute For Artificial Intelligence based in San Fransisco, the term "The Singularity" was first used by Vernon Vinge to describe a time when there exists on Earth an intelligence greater than man.
It has always been that human intelligence creates technology. When technology can enhance intelligence we will have a "closed loop", where smarter minds can create still smarter minds, with intelligence growing exponentially.
The imbuing of computers with artificial intelligence is presently underway. Fateful warnings of impending doom fall on the deaf ears of techno-nerds who insist on advancing the capabilities of their cyber-creations.
In a future where there exists smarter-than-human minds, when humans assume the mantle of the "intellectually inferior", what will be our raison d'etre?
The first step:
In September of 2010 Google coined the phrase "Ground Zero Mosque"
The term became the focus of millions of search hits, and a verbal icon for both those opposed to, and those promoting, the building of a cultural center within a couple city blocks of the World Trade Center site in New York City.
Ironically, the label "Ground Zero Mosque" was completely misleading, having nothing to do with the proposed building, its purpose or its location. Yet, for weeks thereafter, the words "Ground Zero Mosque" saturated the internet, the airways and print media.
More remarkable is the fact that it was not a journalist, editor or blogger that invented this catchy misnomer...it was Google. Not someone, not some human working at Google, but the search engine itself...a set of programs, systems and algorithms. Reacting to the number and the subjects of searches, Google adjusts and adapts to offer users simple descriptive headings to topics of interest. It was this automated system of binary code that created the inaccurate but universally recognized term that seemed to take on a life of its own...too trite to die.
Any veteran newspaper man would have been proud to have laid claim to such a memorable headline, knowing, like the snake-oil salesman and huckster, that truth in packaging pales in importance to first getting your audience's attention. It is this glaring misdirection, coupled with a devious willingness to give 'em what they want, that I find disturbing.
This seemingly simple construct captured the attention and inflamed the passions of millions of people...a manufactured label, a computer generated illusion, it became a touchstone.
This may be the first evidence of a computer knowing how to really push OUR buttons!
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