There have been a few times the past couple of weeks where I marvel at modern technology and worry about humanity. All at the same time. Apple’s products (and those of competitors) have become so useful and powerful that we may be overlooking a dangerous trend with technology.
Siri has improved but has competitors that rapidly are becoming intelligent personal assistants running on devices which gather a tremendous amount of information about each of us. Why is that not a bit scary? Here’s a good example. Scientists at a Sony research lab unveiled a song called Daddy’s Car which sounds pretty much like any middle-of-the-road pop song of the past 40 years. It was created by artificial intelligence.
If music can be created by artificial intelligence that is indistinguishable from music created by a human (or a pop band), how far are we from reading articles in our favorite trade rags or online newspapers that are created by similar artificial intelligence?
Carry that thought of AI advancement out two more steps.
The first is artificial digital humans on television and in movies. Already some action games– completely artificial in nature– are difficult to tell from similar actions on TV shows and in movies. How far are we from movie stars and TV stars that are not human at all, but merely digital creations that look and act human, and for now, fully controlled by humans and programmers, but that’s only first generation. How much longer before those created programs begin to program themselves?
The second is to transfer those artificial digital humans into robots; initially cute and nearly cuddly pet-like creatures that talk to us, then similar devices which do household chores, and then nearly life-like robots that become increasingly difficult to tell apart from humans.
It could happen.
Much of what we’ve seen in science fiction down through the last century has come to pass, so if it’s within the realm of possibility– which is the domain of science fiction– then it’s also in the realm of probability.
Where does Apple fit into this?
Agree or disagree, but Apple is a company that creates products that have an emotional bond with customers. Android doesn’t do that. Windows doesn’t do that. The Mac does. The iPhone does. As Siri improves and becomes more embedded into applications that can perform tasks with a verbal command, we may find even more of an attachment to such devices. Check out the 10 Best Educational Robot Kits and you’ll see where this is headed. Cute, cuddly, friendly, useful, no?
Robots already build cars and electronics, but they are devoid of the touchy feely aspect of humanity. With an ever growing robotic presence permeating modern society, what of humanity? What work will we perform? How will we live when nearly everything that needs to be done can be accomplished by a machine, cute, friendly, or otherwise?
When Siri has an answer to every question, minus the snark when she does not, will we see Apple a leader in such personalized robotics? Will Siri take on a human presence; first as a face on iPhone and Mac, then as a moving product roaming about the home or office?
I see this coming and it makes me a little uncomfortable when so-called artificial intelligence can look, perform tasks, write, sing, and play music like a human.