Google and Kurzweil Teaming up to Build Skynet
According to the MIT Technology Review, futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil’s new job at Google entails designing and building a type of artificial intelligence that will serve as a super-sophisticated personal assistant — or what will eventually become humanity’s godlike overlord.
The details of the new AI system are frustratingly scarce. Presumably it will gather and analyze all available information in Google’s databases (in other words, the entirety of human knowledge) and even listen in on phone conversations and read emails.
No, we’re not making this up.
As fascinating as this ambitious project sounds, we can’t help but wonder if Kurzweil has ever seen 2001: A Space Odyssey or the Terminator series.
Both 2001 and Terminator resonate as cautionary tales of the dangers of unrestrained, sentient artificial intelligence. The two narratives tap into humanity’s unconscious and ancient apprehension of technology we don’t fully comprehend, a theme that can be traced at least as far back as the Jewish folktale of the Golem.
Of course, there are a few popular stories that convey the opposite theme, that artificial intelligence will be humanity’s salvation. A classic example is the Isaac Asimov short story “The Last Question,” which Asimov felt was his best work. (Seriously, if you haven’t already read it, do so now. We’ll wait.)
At this point, what Google and Kurzweil are up to is a bit unclear. Don’t most of us already have access to the full extent of human knowledge crammed in our pockets? Whether their adventures in AI will give us smartphones on steroids or spell the end of humanity, we’ll continue to feature more news along the way.