Artificial intelligence is silly

On Silicon Valley's ludicrous Terminator scenario

A scene from The Terminator.
(Image credit: Entertainment Pictures/Alamy Stock Photo)

According to many of the world's smartest people, the greatest crisis faced by what is left of civilization is not the appalling concentration of wealth in the hands of the global meritocracy or stagnant wages or unemployment or the vicious internal contradictions of globalized free trade or our dumpster-like attitude toward the splendors of creation or even nuclear war. It's evil computers, like the ones in Terminator, which at some undisclosed point will try to kill us all.

In a recent public letter Google's Sergey Brin outlined his fears about a world in which our safety is threatened by machines with "sci-fi style sentience." His comments echoed those made on various occasions by Tesla's Elon Musk, whose far-out theories about the "existential threat" of artificial intelligence are either moronic or too heady for this mere earthling. Some hackers believe it is possible that in the not-too-distant future an omnipotent, omniscient computer program called "Roko's basilisk" will consume the entire universe and punish foolish mortals out of pure mechanical spite for all of eternity.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us