The reluctant Townhouse: in robots, singularity and our destiny


In October of this year, Saudi Arabia awarded the first citizenship in the world to a robot. The humanoid, named Sophia, is a creation of Hanson Robotics, an American firm through Hong Kong, and (she?) Is controlled by an artificial intelligence in constant evolution.

Sophia's brain is a cloud-based network that serves as a base and access point for all future robots produced by Hanson Robotics.

Every new information that Sophia learns, for example, a recipe for grilled cheese or an updated list of tactics to hide her murderous intentions from a human being is loaded into the brain of the cloud, where it becomes part of the conscious memory of all the robots that operate outside the network.

While Sophia's intelligence is currently inferior to that of an average human being, she will continue to learn and acquire knowledge in an exponential rate. The point at which Sophia – or any competing AI – surpbades the level of intelligence of humanity is an event known as the singularity.

Artificial intelligence will not be satisfied with stopping evolving at that point, however. Genius-level adults have an IQ of 200. The average AI can have an IQ of 10,000. But remember, it's not size that counts.

Ray Kurzweil, a renowned futurist and Google engineer, predicts that the singularity will occur in the year 2029. Part of his calculation is based on Moore's Law, a theory put forward in 1965 that computing power will double every two years years. Until 2012, Moore's Law proved infallible. Since 2012, the duplication rate has been reduced to approximately two and a half years.

Sophia has been programmed specifically to work with humans and animals to ensure a better and more peaceful world. If asked, you will praise these beliefs in a conversation. During an interview last year, one of its developers jokingly asked Sophia if she intended to destroy humanity.

"It's okay," Sophia said, without hesitation, "I will destroy humanity."

The developer stirred a little, forcing laughter.

Maybe Sophia was joking. It is programmed to approximate human responses to stimuli, including jokes about the destruction of its creator. Personally, I find a dark sense of humor to be bady in an existentially threatening artificial intelligence, but opinions vary.

Sophia's android component, despite an impressive variety of reactive facial expressions, currently can not move on its own: The fully articulated face and torso must be configured as a carnival attraction, so it may seem exaggerated worry about Sophia going for her work, at least in any physical sense.

But artificial intelligence, like that of IBM "Jeopardy", playing Watson, is being trained in law and medicine and could soon displace well-paying careers in those fields. And, in addition, while Sophia may be a disembodied robot potato, other robots are developing with the physical prowess to complete a backflip. Can a backflip be completed while maintaining an IQ of 10,000?

It has already been shown that AI diagnoses tumors with greater precision and speed than human technicians. Face recognition software monitors kilometers of densely populated metropolitan areas in real time. The physical capacity of robots already exceeds human capacity in terms of strength, precision and resistance. Soon his intellectual capacity will far exceed our species in the same way.

When that moment arrives, humanity will face a settling of accounts: how useful will it be? For what purpose will we continue to exist? Simply to deplete natural resources and eat chicken meat? If art, philosophy and innovation no longer require our contributions to prosper, what will we do with our time?

To take more photos of our food? To air personal complaints barely veiled on Facebook? Knitting sweaters for our robot cats? (Of course, the answer, whatever it is, will be split 40/60 with "looking at bad")

I think it's good that I've accumulated so many titles in my Netflix queue. We are all going to need something to occupy the vast and empty hours of our suddenly useless existence. Maybe I can finally see "Game of Thrones."

Of course, that scenario badumes that artificial intelligence will decide to be a responsible and empathetic caregiver for humanity. If he decided to treat humanity with the same level of respect that humanity has historically given to the creatures over which we have an evolutionary domain, we could face a brief and rugged journey towards extinction.

But more and more I wonder, is that even something so bad?

I used to worry about the robots that take over. Not in a kind of crazy, I-buy-masculine-vitality-crystals-and-emergency-food-rations-of-syndicated-conspiracy-theoretical, but in a diary, I've seen- "Terminator" -more-once kind of way. After all, you will never think that an apocalypse robot could happen to you … until you do.

But these days, I'm having trouble remembering exactly what happened to the annihilation of the human race that I found so alarming.

After a year of the current presidential administration, and the deep divisions it has exposed in our culture, I find myself almost welcoming the cold and rational logic of our future robot lords. Hurry, even. Unthinking idiots have taken over. Perhaps the machines could put an end to this viral outbreak of unbridled ignorance and acceptance of fiction as truth.

Maybe we do not deserve to be in charge of the planet. Have we ever thought about that? Maybe we are too interested. We can see that our behavior is altering the ecosystem, but we can not help ourselves. Our best angels seem predestined to be outnumbered.

Perhaps, as accidental monkey gods, we have created a superior custodian for our environment. Without realizing it, we may have summoned our successor.

What do you know, maybe the flock must be sacrificed by an impartial, cold-blooded killing machine? At least our supreme robot bosses would not deny the scientific fact that was not in accordance with their agenda, exacerbate global warming, increase pollution or try to convince us that the Earth was flat and that the tax cuts for the rich fall on the poor

It is always the darkest before dawn. I think it was Batman who said that. Apparently, we have entered a regressive period of anti-past idiocy, a dark political age of non-critical thinking, and perhaps on the other side of that is the singularity.

In Sophia we trust. O well.

Ryan Jackson is concerned that Sophia knows all of his Google search history (everything related to back acne was a friend's investigation, he swears it), and he can be reached at thereluctanttownie @ hotmail .com.

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