BEELINE TO THE FUTURE: The Artilect War

Robert Bee
Robert Bee's picture

I spend far too much time thinking about the future of robots, but I do it for you, my Rupublibot reader. Read my column on a regular basis, and you’ll be one of the small groups of humans who survive the robot uprising.

In Forbes, of all places, Hugo de Garis has an article “The Coming Artilect War,” which is as far out as any SF story (http://www.forbes.com/2009/06/18/cosmist-terran-cyborgist-opinions-contr...). De Garis, an AI programmer who is currently helping China build its first artificial brain, argues that species dominance will be the central issue of the next century of politics. Artilects -- artificial intellects -- will in the next few decades develop mental capacities far beyond humans.

The first effect of artilects will be positive, as they spur tremendous levels of economic growth. Every home will have an artificial brain that will be useful and intelligent, becoming one of the world’s biggest industries.

A few years after that, however, artilect intelligence will evolve until it becomes godlike, and humans will have to accept a status as a secondary species or block the development of the artilects.

De Garis argues that humanity will divide into three groups: 1) Cosmists, who will want to build artilect gods, 2) Terrans, who will try to stop the development of powerful artilects, and 3) Cyborgists, who will try to combine humanity with the artilects. These three factions will have bloody wars, the bloodiest in human history, as they pursue their ideological agendas.

De Garis is the author of a book, The Artilect War, which presumably develops these points in greater detail. It says a lot that this type of speculation is now going on in Forbes, not just Analog.

I would suggest that your best home of surviving this uprising is to become a Cyborgist, which might give you super intelligence and possibly other superior capacities. The Terrans seem doomed to lose in this scenario; completely unaltered people will become either raw material or end up on a reservation. You could also become a Cosmist and worship the god-like artilects, but I find that a bit demeaning. Try to become a Cyborg like the Six Million Dollar Man. Although don’t run in slow motion like Lee Majors.

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Staffwriter Robert Bee is a professional librarian, and a freelance writer living in New Jersey. He can be reached at rightrob@republibot.com

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