No, this isn’t another review or advertisement for the new Terminator movie, I haven’t even seen it yet actually, and I haven’t been talking to Elon Musk either (boy wouldn’t THAT be a Geek Insider exclusive?). I’m talking about ALL of the evidence that robots are indeed out to get us, and always have been!
Don’t believe me?
Well, you just might by the time you finish this article.
The Times Science Fiction Predicted the Future
Okay, virtually every Geek worth their salt knows that Gene Roddenberry was like a Sci-Fi Nostradamus. Just take a look at a handful of tech items off the top of my head that appeared on Star Trek long before they were actually created.
- Giant TV Screens
- Universal Translators
- Bluetooth / Hand’s Free Earpieces
- Flip Phones / Cell Phones
- Video calls
- Automatic Doors
- Speaking to computers that verbally answer questions (Alexa/Siri)
- Replicators (3D printing)
- Tablet computers
- Eye-top computers (Google Glass)
And I’m sure there are plenty more.
Movies, plays, books, comics, and just about every entertainment medium has successfully predicted numerous technological advancements.
- Minority Report’s super cool scenes of floating computer screens with touch-technology is soon to become a reality as several companies developing heads-up technology that doesn’t require voice activation, physical keyboards, or even a screen for input.
- I’m not certain whether it’s in the Phillip K. Dick story or not, but Minority Report also showed us the widespread use of facial-recognition software.
- In Ray Bradbury’s 1953 Fahrenheit 451, Mrs. Montaug retreats into her own world with thimble-sized radios in her ears called “Seashells” that provide her with “an electronic ocean of sound, of music, and talk.”
- In Edward Bellamy’s book, Looking Backward (published in 1888), the protagonist falls asleep in 1887 and wakes up to find himself in 2000, where cards are used as money.
- Even a scene in Pretty in Pink foretold the coming of instant messaging.
Seriously, the list goes on and on here. Simply put, pop culture has accurately envisioned tech advancements again and again.
So, why aren’t we heeding their warnings?
Robots & AI at Their Worst
We all know that life imitates art and vice versa all the time and while of course not every “prediction” has come true, there have been quite a few that were right on point.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m against AI or robotics, I’m just trying to point out something here. Sure, The Terminator is the modern day personification of robots going bad, but there are plenty of other examples of them and their AI counterparts turning rogue.
These days we also have The 100, the CW show on its last season that has A.L.I.E., a female genderized AI that nukes the world and tries to control the survivors. A decade ago there was both Shane Acker’s movie 9, where a soulless AI decides to exterminate all of humanity and life on Earth, and Disney’s Power Rangers RPM with synthetic life that creates an army of robots and promptly destroys or enslaves almost the entire world.
Here’s just a few more examples:
- I, Robot – Will Smith battles an AI supercomputer named VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) who seeks to protect humanity from itself by using an army of robots.
- Legends of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. The Dune prequel trilogy where Omnius is sentient.
- The 90’s rocked our world with The Matrix trilogy, where we found that we’re truly in a holographic world controlled by sentient machines.
- The Transformers have had evil robots since the 1980’s.
- In the 70’s, Battlestar Galactica had us at war with the Cylons, machine soldiers originally created by an alien reptile race but they evolved beyond their creator’s control.
- Colossus, a series of science fiction novels and several films in the 1960’s and into the 70’s, had the world battling a computer that ended up being “built better than we thought.”
- From the 30’s through the 50’s, Isaac Asimov wrote multiple stories regarding Multivac, a supercomputer that pretty much evolves into God.
And seriously, there are numerous other examples.
But the thing I wanted to point out the most is that robots have been bad news since their very inception.
The term “robot” was first coined in 1920 by Karel Capek in his play, Rossum’s Universal Robots (aka R.U.R.). He crafted the word from the Czech term “robota,” which means serf labor, drudgery, or hard work.
In R.U.R., Capek didn’t envision robots as trusty additions to our lives that granted us the ability to live in a utopia. The play has humanity’s existence under attack when our very first robots attempt to pull a Pinky and the Brain and take over the world.
And they’ve been after us ever since.
Okay, okay, I’m not actually serious, serious here, I just found it rather interesting that robots have been going to the dark side since their dawn of time. With that being said, I do think our resident engineers, programmers, and robotic developers need to keep these “warnings” in mind at all times.
If AI gets too smart, it seems almost destined to either enslave or eradicate us.