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Why The Future Doesn't Need Us
Atec February 29 2008 20:16:19

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. I was taken aback,
especially given Ray's proven ability to imagine and create the future. I already
knew that new technologies like genetic engineering and nanotechnology were
giving us the power to remake the world, but a realistic and imminent scenario for
intelligent robots surprised me.

It's easy to get jaded about such breakthroughs. We hear in the news almost
every day of some kind of technological or scientific advance. Yet this was no
ordinary prediction. In the hotel bar, Ray gave me a partial preprint of his
then-forthcoming bookThe Age of Spiritual Machines, which outlined a utopia he
foresaw - one in which humans gained near immortality by becoming one with
robotic technology. On reading it, my sense of unease only intensified; I felt sure
he had to be understating the dangers, understating the probability of a bad
outcome along this path.

I found myself most troubled by a passage detailing adystopian scenario:


First let us postulate that the computer scientists succeed in developing intelligent machines that can do all things
better than human beings can do them. In that case presumably all work will be done by vast, highly organized
systems of machines and no human effort will be necessary. Either of two cases might occur. The machines might
be permitted to make all of their own decisions without human oversight, or else human control over the machines
might be retained

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