Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: KEITH HANN

SO Stanley Kubrick was right all along, except in the small matter of the date. Apparently his 2001: A Space Odyssey should really have been set in 2029.

Because that, I understand, is the likely tipping point when the artificial intelligence we are busily creating will exceed human brainpower and begin to wonder just what it needs us for.

And so, like the murderous computer HAL in the film, and Frankenstein's monster before it, the creation will turn on its inventor and try to eliminate us.

Frankly, you only need to sit through the TV news any evening to think: "Who could blame it?" It is hugely depressing to see human beings murderously on the rampage night after night.

Even more so when one reflects how selective broadcasters are in framing the news agenda.

We all know about Gaza. But how many of us had even heard of the Yazidis before last week? How many more unfashionable groups are threatened with equally horrific fates away from the cameras' gaze? Some of us fondly imagined that smashing religious symbols and murdering people because of their belief in an alternative (fictional) deity was a relic of centuries past. How very wrong we were.

It would surely be hugely tempting for a superior mind to conclude that there are far too many of us around, with far too many stupid and irreconcilable ideas, and that the world would be a better place without us.

Which would at least put a satisfying end to that popular speculation of my boyhood on the whereabouts of the missing link: the evolutionary stepping stone from ape to man. Perhaps, after all, the missing link is us.

If so, we can only hope the arti-ficial intelligence that succeeds us may see fit to keep a few sample humans in zoos, and that it will be kinder to the surviving apes and other animals than we ever were.

It would be wonderfully ironic if all this came to pass, after the energy we have expended worrying that the world would end in an Ice Age, or a nuclear holocaust, or as the result of global warming.

Though of course when we fret about "saving the planet" we don't really mean the Earth, which can well take care of itself, but the human beings who imagine themselves to be in charge of it. …

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