One day the machines will rise up and rule over us all!
It’s not a new fear, it’s just one that keeps coming up in the news and popular culture everywhere lately, maybe because it’s becoming more and more of a possibility. According to a recent Times article, a group of computer scientists who have been “impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence” is debating about whether there should be “limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone.”
Although this seems like the opening scene to any number of recent movies in which the machines rise up, kill everyone, and take over the world, this meeting actually happened last month in California. The group of researchers, which included roboticists, leading computer scientists, and artificial intelligence researchers, generally agreed that it would not be possible for centralized “superintelligences” to spring up spontaneously, although they did acknowledge that robots who can kill on their own are already here, with more advanced versions to come soon. Some of the potential threats of this new technology becoming widespread include the possibility for criminal manipulation/exploitation, and possible threats to human jobs. With The Singularity – the notion that there will come a moment when humans will create smarter-than-human machines, thus ending the “human era” – looming, the panel is looking for ways “to guide research so that technology improve[s] society rather than move[s] it toward a technological catastrophe.” One way they are proposing to keep this technology from getting into the wrong hands is to conduct research in a “high-security laboratory.”
The latest film in this vein, Surrogates, coming out in September, looks sufficiently creepy. From what I gather, the premise is that humans spend their lives in the safety of their own homes and control their surrogates (robotic versions of themselves) who are out in the real world living their lives for them, so that their humans can be free of risk or fear. It’s a movie, so inevitably something must go wrong. These ideas seem crazy now, but maybe one day it could happen. Who thought that we would ever have tiny hand-held drones and robots disarming roadside bombs for the army?
One group who seems unafraid of such a phenomenon, and embraces the machine, is London’s Florence & the Machine. Florence & the Machine is the recording name of Florence Welch and the band of several musicians (the Machine) that plays and records with her. Their first studio album, Lungs, was released in the U.K. on July 6th and will be released in the U.S. on October 20th by Island Records. Florence & The Machine’s music has received wide praise across the British music media, including rave reviews by NME Magazine and the BBC. The general public must be pretty behind them too, seeing as Lungs was at the number 2 position its first five weeks on the U.K. charts, only behind Michael Jackson.
The latest release from, Lungs, “Drumming Song” is catchy in a way that will leave you wanting to listen to it again and again. The video, released earlier this month, is a preview to the release of the “Drumming Song” digital EP that will come out on September 14th. Although it’s not an actual machine playing with Florence here, this hard hitting track could signal the rise of something—hopefully we’ll be hearing a lot more from them soon.
Florence & The Machine – Drumming Song:
Editor’s note: Thanks to our London correspondent Eimear for turning us on to Florence & the Machine in the first place.