The Invincible and the taking over of technology
In recent years, new advances in technology have freed people from tedious tasks, enabling them to do more in less time. We have come to rely excessively on this technology, to the point that we may be giving computers too much intelligence and independence. If machines ever develop intelligence on a level that could challenge humans, will they find that the most efficient course of action for humans is removing them? Stanislaw Lem’s novel The Invincible tells of a race of robots that dwell on a planet and come to threaten the lives of a crew looking for their sister ship, The Condor. Robots were placed upon the planet millions of years ago and evolved according to the environment. They needed to destroy anything that would cause their species to discontinue, including humans. The Invincible proves that the advancement of intelligent machines will threaten our society one-day.
Throughout history, humans have become fascinated with how far technology may someday take us. Works of science fiction through literature and entertainment have made it possible to uncover potential future developments. Levels of technological advancements are at an all time high, while computing power is set increase dramatically in coming decades. Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, predicted, in what is now known as Moore’s Law, that the processing power will double every 18 months. This and the development of quantum computers may account for new tools toward artificial intelligence. Some have looked at this upcoming enhancement in artificial intelligence with anticipation and others with dread.
Professor Hans Moravec, well known for his belief that machines will inherit the earth, believes that it is only the next logical step in evolution. Mechanical machines are capable of far greater learning and development and will therefore replace biological humans.
John Leslie, professor of philosophy at Guelph Univerisy, predicted a number of ways these intelligent machines may cause the extinction of mankind. The super intelligent machines may argue to themselves that they are superior to humans. They may also develop the theory that the only way to save humans, is to save us from ourselves. They may eliminate some of us due to overpopulation trends or disease.
Although we do not currently possess the ability to create such complex intelligence, many who are studying this field have thought of ways to prevent an intelligent machine takeover. Isaac Asimov, a quintessential author of more than 500 science fiction works, developed a group of fundamental rules humans would give to intelligent machines in order protect themselves. In Asimov’s collection of short stories in “I, Robot”, he would give robots the command: “A robot may not injure humanity, or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.”
Yet many researchers have abandoned the hope of applying these simplistic laws. Machines will reach a degree of independence and break one rule to preserve another. This is seen in the movie I Robot, which was produced from taking Asimov’s ideas and writings. Not only did the robots ignore the laws in this film, but tried killing the main character in order to preserve their existence. Suddenly machines are given an instinct of survival, though they possess no means of emotion or contemplation. This is exactly what can be seen in The Invincible, with robots that inhabit a planet and must destroy each other in order to exist.
Robots begin to evolve, according to the environment, and many new species of the robots reside. However, after several thousand years, only the strong survive. This includes a species of robots that are similar to insects and travel in enormous packs. This explains why the shell of the Condor, The Invincible’s sister ship, is eaten away at. The crew aboard the ship also suffers in that their memories are wiped away and they die slowly. The “insect robots” felt it necessary to due away with humans on the planet in order to prolong their existence.
The Invincible shows how humans may react when confronted with an “up-side down evolution”. They first found the idea that robots inhibited the planet to be impractical, but when confronted with the evidence became fearful. People in the present time often go through three stages when examining the impact of new technologies. They at first enter a stage of awe and amazement, seeing how it may positively impact our culture. Then a sense of dread is accompanied after learning the potential takeover of the intelligent machines.
Yet even if a distant danger does exist, it is much too early to start panicking. The third stage consists of taking a responsible path in order to try to prevent a replacement of the human race.
Due to the increasing technologies and Moore’s law being proven, it is only a matter of time before artificial intelligence is fabricated. Trying to control the systems will not work in that they will become smart enough to unprogram themselves. Due to the nature process of evolution, humans will need to be replaced by machines, due to our incompetent nature. It is merely the next logical step in evolution. The Invincible shows a situation in which this may happen. The weak will eventually be eliminated as it is proven in this novel.
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