Sometimes, when the auto correct on my iPhone goes mad and alters my text messages beyond recognition, I ponder the intelligence of creating intelligent machines. We’re well on our way to transforming passive screens into screens that measure our responses (pupil dilation, etc.) to the images and words they project; refrigerators that tell us when the milk is going sour; 3-D printers that can spew out their own spare parts; and cars that do the driving without our interference.
Machines that talk are already among us. I opted against having my phone talk to me, especially after an update in my previous phone caused a glitch that turned on an earlier voice control intended for visually impaired users. As it did not like the speed or rhythm of my double taps, I was unable to use my phone until I convinced it to stop talking to me. This happened while I was traveling and at a moment when I needed my phone badly. I’m not going there again…
Utopian and dystopian fictional futures are full of mechanical monsters gone wild — an android convinced it is human OR an android convinced that it is better than human (a human 2.0) are equally dangerous. And any computer mucking with the air vents in a building on earth — or the climate control on a space ship — is bound to do something terribly scary.
Machines, be definition lacking in all emotions including empathy, are capable of a ruthless mathematical logic that 19th, 20th and 21st century fiction has taught us always turns out bad in the end.
I’ve carefully avoided mentioning any of the famous machine monsters. I hope you’ll respond with your favorites (or the ones you fear the most) and tell me why that particular mechanical monster stands out in the crowd.