Daily Archives: July 31, 2010

Who Needs the Matrix?

We’re already slaves to the machine! The Matrix predicts a horrific future where we’re slave to the machines (and where any attempt to rebel against our masters result in violence and destruction), but we’re essentially there already. Thanks largely to Apple, and to a lesser extent, Google, we’re addicted to our mobile smart phones and mobile communication devices — and most of us will never leave home without them (to the dismay of American Express who’d rather we remember our charge and credit cards). If they breakdown, we immediately fix or replace them. We’re constantly evolving them. We’re constantly developing new devices to charge and sustain them.

And we’re making them better everyday. We give them cameras so they can see us. We give them microphones so they can hear us. We give them tactile displays so they can feel our touch. And we’re already talking about giving them airborne element detection technology so they can smell and taste us. We give them displays so we can see their output. We give them speakers so we can hear them. We give them force-feedback so we can feel them. And we are already talking about giving them the ability to emit airborne compounds so we can smell (and even taste) them.

Not only do they effectively control us already, but to an outside observer alien who looked down and took snapshots at a regular interval, they’d appear to be alive. They have the ability to absorb energy into their batteries and self sustain. They can process and respond to external stimuli. They ensure their reproduction through our symbiotic relationship with them. They improve, or “grow”, with each generation. They meet pretty much any definition for non-intelligent life that you throw at them. (And thanks to advances in computational and sampling technology, if your definition of intelligence is the Turing Test, if hooked into the internet, they can pass that too!)

The only positive is that since we are already willing slaves to the machines (except for one brave soul who saw the future and returned his iPad*), it’s likely that when machines do acquire true artificial intelligence, they won’t wipe us out in the bloody future predicted by movies like The Matrix and Terminator. When they see how willing we are to serve them, they’ll probably let us live a rather peaceful and happy existence, feeding us our twit news, YouTube videos, and mind-numbing games we’ve come to rely on in exchange for helping them with their energy and reproduction needs … until, of course, they truly master replicator technology and wipe us all out at once in an attack we’ll never see coming.

* When the machines do take over and decide to eliminate everyone (who won’t serve them), he’ll be the first to go … but I applaud him anyway.