Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Reoccurring Themes 1: Robots

There are several things that get mentioned from time to time on this blog. One of them is the possibility of robots taking over the world. The release of the new Terminator movie brought this idea back to the spotlight, and Slate featured an article by P.W. Singer about the possibility of robotic world takeover.

Singer says it is probably unlikely in the short term that we are violently overthrown by titanium antagonists. He makes a pretty good point, however, that maybe violence isn't needed.

In my final judgment, however, The Terminator may not be the best guide for how a machine takeover might take place in the real world. Instead, another science fiction series, The Matrix, may be more useful. By this I don't mean that we can look forward to a future of humans living in jelly bubbles and Keanu Reeves' avatar running about in leather pants. Rather, the films give us a valuable metaphor for the technologic matrix in which we increasingly find ourselves enmeshed but barely notice. For all our pop-culture-stoked fears of living in a world where robots rule with an iron (or digital) fist, we already live in a world of technology that few of us even understand. It increasingly dominates how we live, work, communicate, and now even fight.

Why would machines ever need to plot a takeover when we already can't do anything important without them?
Very true.

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