From yesterday's Financial Times, "Google and Nasa back new school for futurists". Excerpt:
Google and Nasa are throwing their weight behind a new school for futurists in Silicon Valley to prepare scientists for an era when machines become cleverer than people.
The new institution, known as “Singularity University”, is to be headed by Ray Kurzweil, whose predictions about the exponential pace of technological change have made him a controversial figure in technology circles.
Google and Nasa’s backing demonstrates the growing mainstream acceptance of Mr Kurzweil’s views, which include a claim that before the middle of this century artificial intelligence will outstrip human beings, ushering in a new era of civilisation.
To be housed at Nasa’s Ames Research Center, a stone’s-throw from the Googleplex, the Singularity University will offer courses on biotechnology, nano-technology and artificial intelligence.
The so-called “singularity” is a theorised period of rapid technological progress in the near future. Mr Kurzweil, an American inventor, popularised the term in his 2005 book “The Singularity is Near”.
Proponents say that during the singularity, machines will be able to improve themselves using artificial intelligence and that smarter-than-human computers will solve problems including energy scarcity, climate change and hunger.
So much for the good news. The article continues:
Yet many critics call the singularity dangerous. Some worry that a malicious artificial intelligence might annihilate the human race.
After numerous sci-fi movies and TV shows have dramatized this scenario, from 1970's Colossus: The Forbin Project (the subject of the movie poster above) to current TV shows Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles1,2 and Battlestar Galactica1, we won't be able to say that we weren't warned.
The image of the movie poster above is from Rodney-Martin.com