You get off the plane and think to yourself how safe and steady the ride felt, until someone asks if you knew that during the whole trip the plane was on auto-pilot. Would you be comfortable or shaken-up knowing that no one was actually flying the plane and that your safety 30,000 feet in the air was totally dependent on a computer?
I would rather ride my bike in the snow with flat tires all the way to Chicago from Eastern’s campus than put my life in the “hands” of a machine (of course, computers do not have hands yet… or do they?). People will develop computers that will be more human-like or to understand human tendencies. I do not want to be replaced by those machines.
Currently, computers are created and assembled by humans, but someday they will be able to build themselves. Lev Grossman, a senior writer at Time magazine, said “the rate at which they’re getting faster is increasing.” The moment in history when computer intelligence surpasses that of humans is called ‘the Singularity.” As Grossman suggests, we should soberly consider this theoretical transformation, as some intelligent minds believe that it could become a reality. After all, there are robots that can teach English, deceive, save lives at the beach, detect sarcasm or drive your car.
Why can’t we remain calm, safe and relaxed even if the plane is flying itself? After all, Bill Saporito said in Time magazine’s “50 Best Inventions of 2010,” “Google’s new Prius … has driven itself 140,000 miles without an unscheduled meeting with a light pole.” The driverless technology could potentially save many lives from the numerous fatalities every year and could improve safety for everyone on the road. However, if we allow cars, planes and boats to begin taking on our human responsibilities, then people will inevitably become more irresponsible.
In 1965, Raymond Kurzweil built a computer that was capable of composing music. He too believes that computers will eventually become more intelligent than humans. According to Kuzweil’s calculations, the Singularity will happen in around 35 years. Typically music is thought to be a creative element of humanity. Placing emotion, creativity and abstraction on a canvas requires experience in technique and a certain conscience or mindset that a computer could not have. Or could it? This is a possibility and a dangerous shift that would change our world. Only humans should be capable of creative acts, but if scientists continue to create programs in machines to take over the acts of human creativity, there could be the unfortunate replacement of human potential.
Computers are a helpful tool, but only to a point. They should not be allowed to start controlling our bodies or how we behave. As long as the technology remains as a tool to help us and not to replace us, then we should not have to fear that our lives will someday be in the hands of a computer.