Imagine the total revolt of every automated device you use. Your self-driving car refused to give you a lift. Your iPhoneX ignored your attempts to unlock it with your face. How bad would this rise of the machines be? After robots take over, would there be any place for humans?
Some robots can teach themselves chess in the matter of hours. Others run hotels, and assist surgeons in the operating room. And hey, look around you… We let robotic cleaners vacuum our floors, leave it up to Litter-Robots to take care of our pets, and trust Amazon Echo and Google Home to wake us up in the morning.
What if one day all our devices decided that humans were redundant and turned against us? Could we survive this automated disaster?
Already picturing a Terminator-like scenario? Don’t give up so fast. There are many ways for you to survive a robot apocalypse. Why not just shut the door behind you? Despite the fact that robots are mastering math, a closed door is an obstacle they can’t overcome yet. Well, most of them can’t.
On top of that, their coordination isn’t exactly perfect. If experimental bots in the robotic labs went berserk, they would just slam into walls, doors, and any other obstructions they meet on their way. Not so scary, is it?
They might easily mistake a chair or a paper towel dispenser for a human, since most of them have no way to recognize you. What about our cell phones? A phone’s options to harm you are very limited. Posting that embarrassing video you always meant to delete but never did is the worst thing they can do.
Well, there’s a possibility of them running up huge credit card bills. Which one scares you most? There are computers built into our cars. But you shouldn’t worry about them – If your car was parked, without a human at the wheel, it wouldn’t know where to go anyway.
And if you were on the road at the moment of the rebellion, you’d still be able to control the steering wheel or pull the hand brake. The biggest robots we have work in factories, assembling things. But since they’re firmly bolted to the floor, how would they go about attacking us? By assembling even more things? Doesn’t seem that scary, does it?
The real danger would come from battle robots. Military drones floating high in the air at the moment of the robot revolution would have no trouble blasting missiles toward us. Luckily, it wouldn’t take long till they ran out of fuel and simply fell from the sky.
An automated army of battlebots armed with machine guns could cause major damage, though. But to thwart their attack you just need to pour water on them. Should we be afraid of nuclear weapons? Computers are involved in every step of launching the nukes. But they wouldn’t be able to complete the task without humans turning the keys.
Even if they managed to trick us into launching nuclear bombs by feeding us false information, the robots themselves would suffer from nuclear fallout just like us. Nuclear explosions create a burst of electromagnetic radiation – electromagnetic pulse, or EMP. It would damage the delicate electronic circuits of the robots, and put an end to the robocalypse.
Long story short, a robot revolution would come to end pretty quickly. No matter how smart our devices seem to us – they don’t have much in the way of Artificial Intelligence. They’re specifically designed to focus on a narrow task and are, luckily, incapable of destroying humanity.
But that doesn’t mean that Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk were wrong to warn us about a future ‘superintelligent’ AI takeover. We may be decades away from conscious machines living among us. But when we manage to create machines that are smarter and more efficient than us, our scenario will be very, very different.
What do you think? Would you give a self-driving car a total control of your drive to work tomorrow?
- XKCD / Randall Munroe, Robot Apocalypse
- Daniela Hernandez, Wall Street Journal, How to Survive a Robot Apocalypse: Just Close the Door
- Matt Simon, Wired Magazine, Forget the Robot Singularity Apocalypse. Let’s Talk About the Multiplicity