I was a sucker for The Matrix trilogy back in the day. I grew up wanting so desperately to be Trinity. The combination of badass choreography, epic shots of Zion and time aboard the ship all made for such brilliant cinematography. But then there’s the concept of the matrix itself. Bizarre idea, but plausible? Sometimes you can be sat at your 9-5 wondering about the meaning of life and feel as if your time is wasted. But the idea that we’re strapped into a big machine that’s using our life-force energy? Surely not. Until well, it might be.

Elon Musk is one of my heroes. I’d say he’s in my top 5, to be specific. His brain fascinates me, truly. But what I respect most about him is that his heart is in the right place. You’ve got a genius that wants to improve the world. From his epic plans for underground highways to SpaceX, his creativity sees no limits on earth or in air. And to be honest, although I’m pro-saving the planet that we do have, he’s thinking 10 steps ahead about how to cope if it does meet an eventual doom. Sad time. But realistic, I guess.

So he’s amazing, we all know that. But his latest mission is to get the UN to ban the use of automated ‘death’ robots – machines built to kill. A terrifying concept that’s not only doable, but likely, in this day and age of extreme hostility. Isn’t it sad that we even have to be having these conversations? That our world’s great minds have to even be wasting their time discussing a future ban on machines created purely to destroy. What a waste of a creation to begin with. What a waste of time, effort, and resources. But the truth of the matter is that humans tire, machines do not.

I guess it makes sense. And in fact, it’s smart thinking from the likes of Musk and Google’s Mustafa Suleyman. Calling for a ban now, from scientists who have seen the capabilities of AI, is a wise move. I was saddened to read that the UK objected to said UN discussion. Surely we’re better than that? The Foreign Office told the guardian that they see no need for a specific ban on AI because international humanitarian law already covers that area. Strange, don’t you think? If they’re so concerned about the people, why not leap at the chance to offer extra protection? Why not support by default?

It went on to essentially say, ‘hey guys, don’t worry. All military operations will always be under human control, so there’s no need to panic.’ Still strange. And to be frank, stupid. You’ve got to stop and think, how did we get here? It’s 2017. But then you look around at who’s supposedly running our countries and it all makes sense. When the UK is being run by a coward and the US by a small child in a man’s body, it all makes sense. It suddenly becomes clear exactly how we’ve got to this point where these kinds of conversations are having to be had by our world’s greatest minds.

AI is a brilliant thing. I think it will save us, in many ways, from the mundane tasks that we really don’t need to be doing. If this frees us up for truly human, creative pursuits, then that’s awesome. But as long as we have bigotry, xenophobia and discrimination of all kinds prevalent, it’s no wonder we’ve got to plan for the worst. We are constantly treading water. We’re doing the delicate dance of keeping the peace amongst those who crave war.

The greatest thing the humble ‘nobody’ like you and me can do is to talk about these issues. Make your peers aware of how real a possibility ‘death robots’ are and how we need to think ahead and prevent the worst. AI can increase the efficiency of our agriculture, bring us automated transport and smart homes. Let’s make these the primary areas of focus – not the death and demise of humans and subsequent Matrix.

What are your thoughts on Artificial Intelligence?

Photo via Unsplash

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I hope one day in the not-so-distant-future we’ll look back and wonder how on Earth we ever let humans drive. I don’t sit here and write this in a frustrated frame of mind after being stuck in traffic; after all, I don’t own a car and travel by train on a daily basis. I’m expressing something that I frequently wonder in disbelief when I am on the roads in somebody else’s car.

I don’t deny that there are many great drivers out there, but even the most switched-on, road-savvy, experienced individual is not superhuman. We all could, theoretically, have a seizure or heart attack at any moment. Or our car could fail us in a time of need. And then there are those that decide to drive drunk or high or tired or whilst texting, hitting the road believing that they are exception to the law. Then there’s driving in weather conditions that you’re uncomfortable with, or God forbid a sudden flash flood that takes you by surprise (and washed away the car of a friend of mine one rainy evening). My point is that you can’t plan for everything and you certainly can’t trust everyone to make the wisest decision 100% of the time.

As of yet, there is no form of transport that is 100% safe and reliable. But, of all of them, driving has got to be the worst. To give you some figures, in 2013, 1,713 people died in car crashes in the UK. Granted, this is lower than the 3,409 in 2000, but it’s still not good enough. And ASIRT report road traffic accidents as being the 9th leading cause of death! Of all the revolting bacterial infections and viruses, road accidents are number 9…

So for the people that want to argue, ‘Driving gives me a sense of freedom. I like to hit the road and go where I want.’ I say first of all, don’t preach to me about freedom! That may as well be my middle name. But I see an alternative looming on the horizon and think you’re remaining well within the box if you want to throw that argument at me.

What if there was an alternative that was totally reliable, frequent, convenient, safe, comfortable and environmentally-friendly. Would you still choose your car? I guess it depends on your priorities. Cars are indeed symbols of freedom, but with more and more of them on the road and an ever-increasing risk to your health, why not focus collectively on a better alternative? I often look at a beautiful place and try to tug on my most creative abstract brain cells and picture it without all the tarmac and four-wheeled fiends. Cars pollute our air with toxic fumes and noise, act as eyesores most of the time, are inefficient, expensive, lead to a waste of time (i.e. traffic) and pose a health risk.

I’m not preaching about getting rid of your car only to use buses and trains that aren’t good enough for your needs. I want you to realise that a car as we know it is NOT as good as it can get. That shouldn’t be the end point of our transport goals in this life. We complain about all the oil companies and how we want to save the planet, but continue to drive our cars around, supporting the oil companies and polluting our planet. Just imagine for a moment if everyone sacked off their cars and demanded that their governments devise plans for a better, more sustainable form of public transport. With developments like Elon Musk’s Hyperloop and Jacque Fresco’s Venus Project, along with Google Chauffer, it’s time we start thinking bigger and striving for better.

hyperloop

The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail