The Terminator and the Washing Machine
The first time the word “robot” ever appeared in literature in the 1920s, the fictional machines rose up and killed their creators. We’ve been telling the same story ever since. From Hal 9000 to the Terminator, it often seems the measure of a fictional machine’s intelligence is best taken by its wish to do us harm.
It’s a scary vision for some observers, and not just technophobes: Scientists like Stephen Hawking; legacy technologists like Bill Gates; not to mention cutting-edge techies like Elon Musk, have all announced their worries about runaway A.I. killing off the human race.
Remarks like that tend to echo in the press. But how worried should we really be? Talking to the scientists working to solve some of A.I.’s toughest problems offers some answers. And so does taking a closer look at the legendary—and widely misunderstood – match between a supercomputer and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997.
More Like This
GMO Food Fears and the First Test Tube Tomato
In the 1990s, a bunch of gene jockeys brought the first genetically engineered food to market. The business crashed but biotech science has flourished far beyond the produce aisle.
Blackout: Understanding the US Power Grid's Vulnerability from the 2004 Failure
In 2003, a blackout crippled areas of the U.S. and Canada, leaving some 50 million people in the dark. Years later, we are still grappling with concerns over the vulnerability of our power grid.
Future of Water
The increasing scarcity of drinking water is beginning to capture the world's attention -- but surprisingly, an innovative solution might just be found in one of the Earth's driest places.
From Y2K to 2038, Lessons Learned from First Computer Crisis
The Y2K bug threatened to wipe out computers and disrupt modern society at the end of the 20th century. We all remember the doomsday hype, but what really happened?