Technological advancements continue to encourage ‘irrational’ fears

You know you’re destined to spread your opinions on a larger scale than your average Joe when you find yourself capable of coming up with a darker/weirder/funnier real-life story when partaking in story swapping. I’m sure that most people can relate to having that one friend who seems to be stranger than the rest, and when it comes to irrational fears, I have one who takes the cake.

Y’see, he has a dead-set belief that the walking dead will one day take over the planet. That’s right, zombies. Initially, I didn’t take him seriously, but when he started talking about how defensible my abode was in such an “inevitable” world event, I had to concede that the man was serious. And while I continued to shake my head at his irrational fear, I started to stumble across articles such as this: 5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen. Sure, it’s on the Cracked website, so it’s supposed to be funny, but after reading through the article my friend felt a whole lot less crazy and somehow more likely to utter that dreadful “I told you so” phrase as he beheaded the undead while trying to break through to my previously discussed zombie sanctuary.

And then there was this article on the PopSci front page about the study of three-legged dogs in order to construct more resilient robots. The article’s specific references to The Terminator films notwithstanding, I was already picturing a rise of the robots after reading the headline.

We’ve got people working on creating a robotic team of football players with the goal of playing against and beating a human team by 2050. Artificial intelligence continues to improve, be it in the world of video games or more practical applications such as trouncing chess geniuses. Bionic limb replacements are now more of a reality than a fictional ‘what if’. Put it all together and suddenly I’m feeling like a conspiracy theorist when I can see a logic in the lead-up to a Skynet-esque future.

Of course, there’s a better chance that such things won’t be happening because of how well science fiction has covered the topic of future robotic overlords, and one would hope that developments in such areas take heed of the fictional ‘prophecies’.

What do you all think? Am I irrationally fearful of the future because I’ve watched one too many post-apocalyptic films, or are my friend and I on to something?


6 Responses to “Technological advancements continue to encourage ‘irrational’ fears”
  1. Dude from Sydney says:

    I’ve said it before in one of these articles: fictional prophets are worth listening to. If we can conceive of something that means that it is possible. If you make something sentient, and at the same time subject it to slavery, then it is going to be peeved.

    don’t, please don’t create AI. It has absolutely no purpose in our society but to supplant us.

  2. Muffin says:

    Can’t go past Asimov’s three laws of robotics!

    1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

    He’s got it pretty well covered, can’t really see how anything could go wrong if we apply those laws! Famous last words, perhaps? Though I did just read a short story about humans conceding to grant equal social status to robots, because, in short, robots didn’t need the humans so much as the humans needed the robots. Also, robots could easily have wiped them out. A generous offer?

    Anyway, don’t know how to prevent such a zombie apocalypse, as such, I’m sure we’ll have to learn THAT lesson the hard way.

  3. Shonky Adonis says:

    Fictional depictions of post-apocalyptic worlds are as often as they are not intended to act as a warning rather than just a good/moneymaking story. So if you see or read something that makes you fear the future then the author is doing their job. I dont think you’re supposed to fear specific possibilities, such as zombies or skynet, but making you think twice before blindly leaping ahead is probably a good result.

    We humans tend to get excited when it comes to technological advancement and take massive steps before even bothering to stop and think about the possible outcomes.

    @ Muffin. I’m not sure if you were being sarcastic or not (damned text format) but you are aware that the three laws were intentionally flawed by Asimov?

  4. @ Dude from Sydney - I can see how your older comments apply here too.

    @ Muffin - I still don’t believe in the possibility of a zombie apocalypse, but it is interesting to read articles such as the referenced Cracked one that seem to suggest that its not as far-fetched as I originally thought.

    @ Shonky Adonis - This really is covering on similar topics to my first ever PopSci blog post about cloning. If fiction is required to make us check ourselves before we wreck ourselves, then so be it.

  5. Muffin says:

    @Shonky Adonis - No, I had no such awareness. Please explain!

    I mean I understand that someone might rework the laws for robots to not simply identify human beings, but ‘friends’ - especially if they are being used for military purposes. In such a case, robots might be used to hurt/kill humans, if they are categorised as ‘enemy’ humans. Hm… yeah, but otherwise, I’m not sure what you mean!

  6. newb scientist says:

    i think we should install a self destruct button on all robots. or an off button will do.

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