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Technophobe Indoctrination

06/09/2011

Another excerpt from Taking Stock.

“A supernova would be cool to watch, if you happened to be looking when it happened. But what if I told you the world has been in the process of ending for millennia, and our generation will get to watch the final chapter unfold?”

“That would be so scary.”

“I know! Have you seen The Matrix?”

Tommy nods.

“Good, that will make this easier. Because machines are going to take over the world, just like in The Matrix.”

No way!”

“Yes. Very soon, scientists will create machines that are more intelligent than humans. Some predict it will happen as soon as 2045. Computing power doubles approximately every two years, so it’s only a matter of time before we develop artificial intelligences smarter than us.”

“We don’t have them yet, though. You said it’s been happening for thousands of years.”

“It has. Check this out. As technology advances, humans themselves get less advanced. We’ve been slowly handing our talents over to it for a long time. It started with the invention of writing, which saved us the trouble of having to remember things, since we could write them down. But as text saw wider use, our ability to remember things diminished proportionately. Then along came Google, and cell phones that remind us when we have appointments. Now we only need to remember to shit.”

“I never thought of it like that.”

“Yeah. Outsourcing all that work is great, until you realize it’s made you stupider. Take calculators, for example. Very useful, but we’re not as good at math as we used to be. And now we’re working on cars that will drive for us, and computer programs that will crawl the web and fact-check our written documents. By the time intelligent machines arrive, humanity will be a shade of what it once was—with only a fraction of the capability it started with. We will rely completely on machines. When they become intelligent, it will be laughably easy for them to take control. Nature gave us intelligence, but we don’t know what to do with it. So we’re giving it to machines.”

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