Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Computer Take Over

Due to the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing's birth, there have been quite a few articles and television programmes about the man who is credited with being the inventor of the modern computer in the 1940's.
When you consider that was only 70 years ago and we have gone from computers that took up a whole room to ones that are now the size of a paperback, that's some progress.
What is most impressive is the power they have now, an often repeated statistic is that the Apollo 11 mission that landed on the moon was powered by a computer equal to that of today's calculators.
Almost everything today is run by a computer and when they stop working or go haywire, as the customers of NatWest Bank have found out, chaos ensues and with computers growing more and more powerful and more vital to society, we are heading for a bit of a disaster aren't we?
At some point computers will be cleverer than us and the amount of human interaction needed will reduce, take an aeroplanes auto-pilot, the pilot is just there to start and stop the plane and keep an eye on the computer that is keeping the thing in the air. BAE systems has already tested pilotless fighter planes so we are already moving into a grey area where we are allowing computers to decide whether to take a life and as with most things, it is the military that will make the most terrifying use of the leaps in artificial intelligence and robotics.
It is not hard to see the near future when independent and heavily armed robots and androids will replace soldiers, real killing machines unleashed on fellow humans.
We are so reliant on computers today, from the banking system to controlling the traffic lights at the end of the street that if they were all to suddenly stop, we would be lost so surely building faster and bigger and smarter computers that will slowly take over new roles with more responsibility and decision making capabilities to replaces the older systems, is a bit of a own goal isn't it?
It's quite frightening just how far and how fast we have moved, and how dependent on computers we have come in those 7 decades since Turing.


Anonymous said...

you sound like someone in 1890 saying the dependence on machines is frightening...

i have trouble seeing you working on a farm. no insult intended.


Lucy said...

The Luddite movement was due to them losing their jobs, this is our dependence on computers in our everyday lives. They control almost everything and as they get smarter, they will control even more and when they go down as computers always do we are stuffed. Then there are the military implications of a robot or computer making the decisions if we live or die. It's HAL territory!!