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?

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Automated reliability is a theme we can only hope is commonplace in our future, preferably starting tomorrow. Some shudder at the thought of robotics integrating with us in our everyday activities. Yes, of course I can empathise with those fearing ‘the machines’ outsmarting us and racing ahead exponentially to plot our demise, but what about the relief aspect to all of this? What about the beneficial possibilities of introducing automated systems en masse?

Think of the plethora of mind-numbing jobs currently being performed by humans. The majority of these humans need far more mental stimulation and creative output than repeating the mundane. For all of these jobs that we loathe, clock-watching and counting down the days until each new pay check; wouldn’t we do better to replace the workforce with robots?

Robots don’t get sick – bar a few ‘bugs’ that someone with IT know-how could sort – and they don’t get bored and they don’t quit last minute leaving you short-staffed. They aren’t tired from partying all night and they don’t fight with each other or have hormonal outbursts. They won’t steal from you or blackmail you and they don’t need holiday pay or time to rest. In other words, they are efficient in a way that we simply can’t be, nor should we have to.

Along the same lines as something I touched on in this post about how we need to stop conforming to the same rigid, masculine rules, we’ve also got to stop working ourselves into the ground. There is a tremendous difference between staying up until 3am perfecting your prized skills and talents, creating whatever it is that you hold dear and slaving away in a job that you despise, only to make ends meet each month.

And that’s really what it’s all about: the financial gain from working said mind-numbing job. I can understand the fear of the cashier at the looming automation of every till point and the need to be repositioned elsewhere in store, because not having a stable outlook is frightening and especially when you’ve got other mouths to feed than your own. But we’ve got to shift our perspective about this whole thing. We need to stop holding on to a ‘world’ that we have outgrown and no longer serves our highest needs.
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It really all comes down to financial distribution and perhaps the lack of. Imagine a world where we all just did what we had to do, without living in a state of fear and scarcity. We built what needed to be built to better the community, we taught each other new skills, we pioneered without the walls of funding standing in the way and we let automated units perform the tasks that at present are wasting our time.

It is a really exciting time to be alive and floating around this planet, because despite all the hardships being faced by so many, we are on the brink of a new way of doing things. Following environmental and social collapse is rebirth, as the phoenix rises from the ashes and operates at a level that it simply didn’t have the ability to process and understand before it fell to the ground. It is a process that we see over and over again in nature: death and rebirth. It happens to us as we evolve and our planet as it hurts and heals.

Like Jacque Fresco so boldly suggested many years ago, we can live in a way that allows us to be fulfilled and happy and stimulated and free, if only we take away the monetary system that we are unfortunately still chained to. Trust me, I too play over and over again in my mind that dark water of an in-between our current state and the idyllic one and I don’t have the formula to a smooth transition – yet. But, just like swarm mentality, the more that start even registering a different way of doing things on their radar, the closer we are to taking a different approach. Two heads are better than one.

The first step in all this is education and as I say introducing the idea to those whom had never considered an alternative before. I strongly recommend watching the marvellous Paradise or Oblivion for a colourful suggestion about the way things can be. And if you’re thinking of criticising, pray tell me how you think we can do it better, because we’d all love to know.

So what happens when almost all of the jobs that humans are currently doing become automated? We are free to spend our time in ways that fulfils us. Just imagine that for a second. It all comes down to seeing things in a way that is outside our current box; an alternate universe if you will.
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