Brace your ass puny human. The singularity has arrived.
Michelle and I needed a break from all of the political noise (see: the “America First” budget proposed by the inner sanctum of numbnutz – cuts to the EPA, abolish the NEA, add $50 billion to the military…). So, we did what every other normal American does when they feel sad- we went to the Mall.
Specifically, the Westfield Mall in the heart of Silicon Valley. It had been a while since I had seen that many pricey garments, doodads and whats-its in such an opulent hall of materialism. $130 for a pair of jeans! When I was a boy you could a pair of jeans for a nickel and still have 2 cents left for a flimsy-doodle…
As we meandered, we got taken in by the many pretty things to buy, and then we saw Pepper…
In this fancypants mall in the heart of the tech boom, Penny serves as the YouAreHere map, and if you take her quick survey, she does this (video lasts less than 1 minute).
(The designers of Penny 2.0 need to work on her air guitar moves).
On a WTF high, we turned the corner, on a hunt for a snack. I knew that such a swanky place would have the best food court. When we stumbled upon this:
Read the creepy small print: “RECORDING Audio and Visual for Your Safety.”
Thus, my mind took a leap. And, I was fully convinced: The singularity has arrived.
Soon, the robots that are already being used as mall security, in factories to make auto parts and furniture, in medical labs…will meet all of the other artificial intelligence, and merge into one collective digital higher consciousness.
There are those, such as author Greg Satell, writing for Forbes magazine, who view these developments as positive.
While others fear the worst. They will be taking over more and more of our jobs, and all of the political posturing, promising factories and JOBS will be moot. A population attached to the past, and obsolete jobs, has an awakening coming to them.
The world is evolving. Consciousness is evolving. A.I. is gaining intelligence, and is soon to overtake ours.
How will we treat robots as workers? And when and if A.I. obtains feelings, will we continue to treat them as machines, objects devoid of feelings? This trope has long been explored in sci fi narratives from “Johnny Five is alive” to the recent film Her and the sublime first season of HBO’s Westworld.
How far off some of these concerns are, only those doing the deep tech work truly know, but when it happens, it will be a paradigm shifter for us all, no longer just the fodder for sci fi geeks and comic book aficionados.
To me, if we all continue to evolve: emotionally, spiritually AND intellectually, then we will welcome a great paradigm change. And if we remain stuck in old modalities of belief, and old structures of living, we will act from a place of fear. Whatever our opinions on the matter, the reality must set in: The robots are here! The robots are here!
As I write this, I am sitting in a coffee shop in Santa Cruz. In this café, three out of twenty people are NOT on computers. 6 people are wearing headphones (myself included). I recall the era before laptops/smart phones when a café would be a hotbed of lively conversation, a place where friends met to chat.
What does the proper balance look like? Will there be more and more trends towards human to human interactions? Or, will we all become more and isolated…more robotic…