There, I’ve said the name. Now the story.
Johnny Depp’s new movie ‘Transcendence’ has been savaged by critics : ‘Sleepy-eyed Johnny Depp is an implausible genius in this unclever sci-fi movie about artificial intelligence’ and ‘Johnny Depp is less attractive here than Zoolander’.
Personally I couldn’t care less about Johnny Depp’s facial hair – what interests me is the concept of artificial intelligence and the idea that the entire consciousness of a human being could be uploaded to a computer. A brain in a bottle. The concept is certainly not new and whether the Frankenstein factor exists or not for me is also irrelevant.
What interests me beyond a healthy love of science fiction is that Google, Facebook, Amazon and other hi-tech companies have been making serious investments in artificial intelligence and robotics. This used to be the bailiwick of cloak-and-dagger government and defence organisations but now it seems that the technology is for sale to the highest bidder. Somehow that makes it even more scary.
Why should Google or Amazon want to invest in internet drones and robotics, self driving cars and the like? For the data. Masses of it. Bucketloads of it. The parking meter in your street, the collar on your dog, the thermostat in your home or even the soles of your shoes will emit signals that can be picked up from anywhere, and Google will be listening.
If the technology develops, software will not only be listening, it will be understanding and anticipating. When it comes to mundane chores such as stocking the fridge or ordering birthday presents, software will be doing our thinking for us.
I guess that’ll spawn another industry – brain gyms. Since we’ve all become physically fat from having cars, elevators etc doing our exercise for us, we’ll need a gym to keep our brains exercised. Or perhaps there’ll be a ‘droid revolution. The mind boggles.