Tim Longhurst's Blog

The Future of Autonomous Systems

April 30th, 2005 · No Comments

Will Robots have souls?

“So if robots are being developed as pets, what about the idea of humans becoming pets to robots?

Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Seti Institute, put it this way:  “It strikes me as likely that, sometime this century, we will build a thinking computer.  That machine will run the planet.  Competitive pressures will ensure this (if we don’t have a machine running our society, we’ll fall behind those that do).   We will no longer be the smartest things on Earth.  Our mantle of superiority will be donned by our own creations.
“Then what?  Will the machines get rid of us?  A machine that dwarfs our intelligence might regard us as we regard budgies or goldfish.   Our role may be to serve as pets for the sentients in charge.
“All of this would be dismaying enough if it were merely a science fiction story.  But I suspect the first steps will be taken by mid-century.  We could well be the last generation of humans to dominate Earth.”

Charles Brass once remarked to me that in this century we will more than likely become the second smartest species on Earth. He then asked me: “What do you consider the second smartest species on Earth, and how is it treated by humans?” Interesting…

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Category: From the frontlines of the future