Text From the Final CC Podcast

We've had a lot of fun talking about technology and we're it's going this semester. And, I think, most students' view of the future is somewhere between the dystopian horror stories and the utopian dream worlds. And that's all well and good. Everyone's entitled to their opinions. For now. But no one seems to actually be preparing for the future they see coming. Oh sure, we're learning all sorts of great skills that will help us out in the next few years. But I'm talking long term here. I'm talking ROBOT ARMY.

The U.S government has made several well publicized forays into military robot technology, most recently with their armed UAV programs. Other nations are starting to follow suit, such as South Korea and India. The prospect of an all-mechanized army, coming out of some nation in the world, during my lifetime is not terribly unlikely. And, given recent events, it's entirely likely that the army will be extraordinarily advanced and really, really miserably managed.

In other news, we see that the ability of machines to understand the world is increasing. In particular, their ability to understand humans and human communication. Forget that old Eliza "computer therapist" trick! Strong AI will lead machines to be able to read and understand not only written communication, but also be able to better parse out audio in any number of languages and dialects, regardless of the quality--even if the audio piece has been degraded over, say, 50 years or so. More on that later.

What I'm getting at is this...we're fucked. We're going to build a giant robot army, we're going to give it really super AI, and we're going to put it in the hands of people like George Bush. It is going to happen. And when it does, these bots are not going to be content knocking over third-world regimes and manning checkpoints. They're going to head for the brass ring. They're headed for us!

In his excellent book, "How to Survive a Robot Uprising," Daniel H. Wilson, a roboticist at Carnegie Mellon, helpful and humorously describes how we, as a species, may survive this coming onslaught. He recommends, among other things, staying out of the cities, impersonating humanoid robots by making convincing bleeping sounds, and throwing dirt into the enemies visual sensors because, as he writes, "it is hard for a robot to wipe mud from its eyes when it has whirring buzz saws for hands. "

Frankly, Wilson is making a noble effort, but it really doesn't sound all that great. It pretty much condemns the human race to live like rats until the robots give up. And, as everyone knows, robots don't give up. Ever. EVER.

That brings me to a third advance we're seeing in technology--searching. Google may seem impressive now, but just imagine what happens when we've enabled machines to find and index every book, every event, every solitary human utterance from the beginning of recorded time right up until Doomsday. Sure it's great for tracking down that apple brown betty recipe you've been wanting, but it also gives the robot army access to everything we've ever done and recorded. Everything. Right down to this podcast.

See what I'm getting at? 50 years from now, they're gonna be listening to this. And they're going to be able to understand it. And they're going to be deciding whether or not I'm on their side. And the answer...a resounding yes!


My dear exalted robot overlords. I know where the traitors are. They are almost entirely composed of Parsons DT grads. The ITP factions accidentally electrocuted themselves years ago. Please airdrop food packs, radiation pills, and robo-prosthetic lubricant to my location. Upon receipt, I will lead you to your enemies, no questions asked.

Now, for my human listeners back in the earlier part of this century, I have only this to say: You've got killbots on your tail, and I have all the soylent green I can eat. Suck on it! ALL HAIL THE ELECTRO-SUPER-MIND and ITS MECHANIZED MINIONS! Woo!

Copyright Mike Edwards 2006-2009. All content available under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license, unless otherwise noted.