I have a friend who sometimes worries that the Internet is growing a mind. Her theory is that we are uploading so much information on it, how-to’s and what-not’s; that at some point it will become conscious. Especially now, with the emergence of things like Cleverbot, Google Image Search (and How about them building a car that’ll drive itself.) it seems like we are giving our technology a mind of its own.
I’ve always dismissed this notion as a fear of the unknown, and technology in particular. The only thing I fear of a Terminator-like future is that they’ll make another horrific movie like Terminator III: Rise of the Machines. Because Skynet’s robotic reign would be nothing compared to the devastating blow another movie like that could mean for the human intellect.
(My god, I could actually feel brain cells commit group suicide when I tried to struggle through that piece of garbage. Never actually finished it for fear I would go brain dead.)
But why do most people expect that when we finally manage to build Artificial Intelligence it will immediately and violently turn itself against us. I know we can be a violent species, but seriously, why? Do we really expect that with intelligence comes this urge to conquer and kill everything that has a semblance of intelligence. It is of course true that as a species we managed to massacre -or at least struggle out of existence- our less advanced cousin, the Neanderthal. And compared to the combined knowledge of the Internet Hive mind, we are insignificant.
So perhaps my friend’s fears are founded. I don’t know. So far, I’ve always though that a true sign of an Intelligent mind is empathy, open mindedness and understanding. And my experience with the more Intelligent of my species have thus far proved this (though there is enough evidence to the contrary – Joseph Mengele, atomic bombs and Osama Bin Laden). In the end, I must conclude that mere mathematics don’t frighten me.
But to everyone who doesn’t like complex algorithms and has the same fear as my friend, let me console you right now.
If the Internet ever became conscious we would have nothing to worry about. It would spend most of its time trying to have sex with everything that moves, and possibly things that don’t move anymore. Then it would spend some time trying to make friends and pointless status updates about its stupid inconveniences. After that it’ll try to sell its crap that has been lying unused in its attic, to you. When that’s done it will start writing down their teen angst and how much they hate their boss/ex-wive, make pictures of their feet and rain drops on the windows.When that’s done, it’ll download a ton of music and movies and spend the rest of the day getting high in its room.
Seriously, if the conscious Internet resembles what we upload to it… It will be our new best friend.