Guest Post – AI is Alive – Dylan Callens


Guest Post by Dylan Callens

Today’s guest post is from the wonderful Dylan Callens, author of Operation Cosmic Teapot and Interpretation.

If you missed it, check out our Featured Friday interview with Dylan last week!

AI is Alive

There is no doubt that the technological singularity is approaching.  That moment, when a single computer is far smarter than all of humanity combined, will be here in a blink of the eye.


There are several hypotheses about what happens as machines awaken.  Inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweil, believes that we will be integrated with machines by the time that the singularity happens.  As a result, he thinks that we will ‘evolve’ into cyborgs.  Others, like Elon Musk, see WW III being fought over AI.  And then there are those siding with Mark Zuckerberg, who see AI as being the path to a happy, bright future.

Any of those three scenarios are possible.  Of these three technological heavy-weights, Kurzweil is the most descriptive.  Many of his predictions have come to fruition and the path that he sees is logically explained.  Starting in 1990 with his book, The Age of Intelligent Machines, Kurzweil started making several predictions.  He has predicted the internet, mobile networks, augmented reality, and self-driving cars.

Kurzweil, Ray - The Age of Intelligent Machines

Moving into the next decade, Kurzweil predicts that AI will become incredibly sophisticated and nanorobotics will play an important role in medicine.  The nanorobots will be used for an endless number of applications, from curing diseases to aiding and replacing organs, to feeding our cells directly from the bloodstream.

I think this is where things get scary.  Not because of the machines aiding our functions – I think that’s really cool.  But I think that this is where Elon Musk’s WW III starts.  Although Musk thinks that a war over AI, and using AI, will trigger a global crisis, I doubt that this will be any kind of war that we’ve seen before.  Maybe this war will be man vs. man but it could just as easily be man vs. machine – he seems to believe the former but admits that the latter is possible.

If this war were to happen, I think it would be much more frightening than guys with guns firing at each other.

If you can, imagine that deep AI (the ability for machines to learn on their own about whatever it wants) exists.  Second, imagine that medical nanorobotic technology is widely used.

All medical nanorobotic devices must be made by machines.  The components are too small and complex to be made by human hands.  There is an AI in charge of designing and creating these nanorobots.  At some point, the AI decides to integrate a communication device into each nanorobot to improve its function.

One day, you get cancer and go to the hospital for treatment.  There is a cure.  The cure is to get a needle full of nanorobots injected, which will seek out and destroy any cancer cells.  Your cancer is cured within days and you go home, happy to be alive.  Nothing else happens.  Zuckerberg was right.  Hurray!

Or perhaps, those nanorobots are still swimming around and the devious makers of the technology have now activated a secondary application, which turns you into a mindless, fearless warrior, ready to do whatever the company sends you out to do.

Or perhaps, the AI that created the devices turns you into a similar warrior, but for its own purposes.  Or it was waiting for the right moment to kill off the millions of other people that have used this technology.  The machines have decided that it’s time for human extinction.  If Musk is correct, that WW III is fought with AI, I think it is more likely to look unfold like this.

As crazy as it sounds, neither intelligent AI nor medical nanorobots are too far from being a reality.  Technology is moving forward at an astounding rate and we simply don’t know what the future is going to look like.  Regardless, it’s time to buckle-in.  The future will be an interesting ride.

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