Friday, March 8, 2013

Sequestor schmquestor, Obama's building Skynet

No matter the economic conditions, our politicians always seem ready to spend money.

This bit about our federal government comes from The New York Times as relayed by io9:
"The project... will include federal agencies, private foundations and teams of neuroscientists and nanoscientists in a concerted effort to advance the knowledge of the brain's billions of neurons and gain greater insights into perception, actions and, ultimately, consciousness.
 Moreover, the project holds the potential of paving the way for advances in artificial intelligence."

Of course this raised all manner of comparisons to Skynet, the nefarious AI computer that kicked off all the troubles in Terminator.  Such comparisons are exaggerated at best.  What will likely concern people in the more immediate future is the cost: $300 million in federal funds over the next ten years.  That's not much in terms of our entire budget, but anything is scrutinized to the nth degree in the current political/economic situation.  Still, the financial benefits of research aren't always apparent from the outset.  The President pointed out the 140 to 1 return on investment for the Human Genome Project during his State of the Union address.

Like I said, not everyone is thrilled.  A commenter on the io9 piece said "first the map, then the drones."  Funny you should say that.

The Air Force is developing tiny, insect-sized drones that can swarm a target.  But wait!  There's more!  These drones "resemble winged, multi-legged bugs. The drones swarm through alleys, crawl across windowsills, and perch on power lines. One of them sneaks up on a scowling man holding a gun and shoots him in the head."

The writer of the Atlantic article linked above questions "how far ahead President Obama" is thinking with this development of drones and even calls for a treaty between nations banning such weapons.  How well do you think that will turn out?  Robots will be replacing humans on the battlefield gradually over the next 20 years.  Any thoughts on how to scupper those designs? Politics and wars just keeping going on.

If nothing else, I am hoping that a corporation will soon develop their own AI a la Gibson.  Then perhaps people will understand why I fear that scenario far more than Skynet.

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