NPR logo Will The Rise Of The Robots Mark The End Of The 'Human Era'?

Will The Rise Of The Robots Mark The End Of The 'Human Era'?

An iCub robot near Lyon, France in July 2009. These robots are about the size of three-year-old children, with highly dexterous hands and fully articulated heads and eyes. Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images

I can't remember when it started, but "the coming robot apocalypse" has been a worry of mine for some time now. I expect that it is an unfounded fear. But every now and then a piece shows up like this The New York Times story headlined "Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man". From the article:

The idea of an "intelligence explosion" in which smart machines would design even more intelligent machines was proposed by the mathematician I. J. Good in 1965. Later, in lectures and science fiction novels, the computer scientist Vernor Vinge popularized the notion of a moment when humans will create smarter-than-human machines, causing such rapid change that the "human era will be ended." He called this shift the Singularity.

One can only hope that the future will look more like The Jetsons and less like The Matrix or The Terminator.

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