Forgive me for going geek this week in my column, if you can. I am a nerd, who hides it well most of the time, often posing as an outdoorsman who loves the woods. If sci-fi, computers and robots are not your cup of tea, please do not stop reading. Please listen to me on this futuristic environment we are flying into with apparent abandon and with welcoming arms.
What? You say you are not in this group? You say you are still old school and read a real newspaper that is thrown on your lawn and this proves you still like the old ways, right? Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but what we discriminating papyrus readers see as normal, the current and future generations will see as antiquated and frankly, a waste of renewable resources. An eTablet reader is acceptably sustainable while pulp-based reading is wasteful – and eventually even… sinful.
No, not sinful! Wasting resources will become criminal, like smoking tobacco… What? Smoking tobacco isn’t against the law.
Never doubt how powerful the written word is and when you add a seasoned orator like our current top executive, it becomes exponentially powerful. The man could sell Edsel, Yugo, Pinto and Corvair cars and people would line up to buy them. Why? Because he has a team of fantastic speech writers and his delivery is convincing, even if most of us reasoning folks can see it is nothing more than political smoke-blowing rhetoric.
Enter Google. Google changed everything for most of us. Back 20 or so years ago AOL had the Internet by the throat and most people gladly paid to use it. I, like almost every computer geek I’ve known thought it was stupid and worked the Internet without it. I used Netscape to browse and Eudora as an email client. Netscape morphed into Firefox and I still use this fine and free open-source browser and thumb my nose at Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Okay, okay, I’m getting geeky, but for a reason.
Google introduced Gmail and blam! I was on it. No more AOL,Outlook or Yahoo folders for my email. No more sorting and cataloging. Google is a search engine and so is Gmail, so I archive my messages and then when I want to find one, I simply type in the person’s name that sent it or a catchy word and there it is. Literally everything Google has done has made my surfing the net better, but about three years ago, I sat up and took a look at what was happening and that is when I half-jokingly predicted that Google may just be the Anti-Christ.
|BigDog - The Most Advanced Rough-Terrain Robot on Earth|
Now, with their acquisition of Boston Dynamics (Google it!), I’m feeling the hackles beginning to rise. This military grade robotics company first came to my attention about five years ago when I watched a video of their robotic Big Dog jump over a section of ground, then walk across ice, cinder blocks, and deep snow without falling down – and that was five years ago! It could carry 350 pounds while doing it too.
Now, back in the ancient days, required reading for college included Ray Bradbury’s incredible book, Fahrenheit 451, which I’ve read maybe 3 times. In this book, the protagonist fears one thing more than anything else – a mechanical dog that once it is on your scent, it never ceases to stop looking for and killing whatever it is looking for. His lone crime was reading books. Books were outlawed and he had 20 of them.
Boston Dynamics also has a robotic animal called “Cheetah” which has been clocked running almost 30 miles an hour and an 11 pound robotic sand flea which can jump 30 feet straight up in the air. How would you like to have one of those weapons land on your head? Bear in mind that these are military grade robots which could be used against “terrorists” both domestic and foreign.
It’s been reported this is the 8th robotic company Google has bought in 6 months and with their collective brain-power and inexhaustible revenue, they are more powerful than many nations. Add in Ray Kurzweil’s terrifying vision he dubs The Singularity where artificial intelligence surpasses humans in 2045 and you have The Terminator. Oh, so you think it can’t happen? It can and Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robots won’t protect us.
|Raymond "Ray" Kurzweil is an American author, inventor, futurist, and a director of engineering at Google.|