2039 A.D

Self portrait by the Author, 2002

The Matrix is one of the best and most original films ever made.

Last week while driving, my son asked me if I had seen the movie. I could hardly contain my excitement as I transformed back into my teenage self at the premiere screening, and remembered how this movie totally melted my brain. “Yes, Ethan, have you seen it?” I replied calmly. “I have seen clips of it on You Tube, so pretty much yeah”. Now as an obsessive movie fanatic, this didn’t sit well with me at all. So on the weekend, Ethan and I sat down to watch The Matrix together, and I was excited to see his reaction as he watched this epic for the first time. He was floored.

The idea that the human race could eventually be dominated by its own man made AI (or the machines) is not new, even for 1999, but the Matrix was more than that. It made us think about thinking, it was like a Hollywood meta-learning experiment, and it worked. My reaction however was more troubling, as I reflected on just how AI has affected our real lives, 20 years later. I questioned whether we ourselves are living in a Matrix, or perhaps we each have our own Matrix Eco-system which differs slightly from everyone else’s. Like a bubble.

I can’t imagine how the world will be 20 years from now, when my son is my age. We may all be living under the big tech Filter Bubble, which is really like the Matrix (“there is no spoon”). We may see another Cambridge Analytica use our own data to manipulate us and feed us 3rd party propaganda. Or we may even see the decline of the big tech giants and the internet as we know it will cease to exist, and be rebuilt to fit our needs (not the other way around).

One thing I know is this: if we do nothing and allow the gatekeepers of the internet to decide what is right for us and our children, then 2039 will be a year I don’t want to know.

Ride this Train

Ethan and Charli (Photo Credit: Christian Espinoza)

Ride this train with me, on a journey into the realms of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Cybernetics. Along the way we pass major milestones in technological advances. From palm pilots to virtual assistants, cryptocurrencies replacing cash, automation replacing personnel. It’s a fast ride and we’re not stopping anytime soon.

As we ride into the age of Artificial Consciousness, are we in fear of losing touch with our own humanity ? In order to model synthetic cognition we must have an understanding of our own mortality.

Compassion, patience, and temperance are virtues we may one day see in machines, but I doubt I’ll live to see when that day comes.

Until then we ride this train into the distance and hope for humanity’s sake we reach the place we’re heading. We claim this new frontier for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children.