Too Much Binge Viewing?

For the benefit of any readers who are not familiar with the term, “binge viewing” is when one gets an entire season or entire box set of a TV series on DVDs and watches them over a short span of time, usually to catch up with a series they just learned about, though some do it for other reasons.

Now on to the topic.  Recently, I came across a curious article on the Space Daily website.  According to the article, Elon Musk, the founder of Paypal and SpaceX (the folks with the Falcon rocket and Dragon space capsule) posted a comment online that claimed intelligent machines could wind up going after humanity in as little as the next five years.

While Mr. Musk knows quite a bit about the Internet and has done impressive things in the realm of private commercial spaceflight (barring any future catastrophes, it is likely that the first American vehicle to carry astronauts into space will be a Dragon capsule), he seems to have some eccentricities.  Personally, his robot comments sound like the result of having binge viewed the SyFy Channel remake of “Battlestar Galactica” or possibly watching a “Terminator” movie marathon.  While I am familiar with both productions and have met some people from the “Galactica” program (original and SyFy channel reboot) as well as Linda Hamilton and Kristanna Lokken from the “Terminator” franchise, these are meant as science fiction entertainment, not documentaries on the future.

Or maybe Mr. Musk was reading “R.U.R.” (Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Karel Kapek, the first story (a play, actually) about conflict between humans and artificial intelligence, very late at night.  Interestingly, there are some similar elements in both “R.U.R.” and the “Galactica” remake, though in “R.U.R.”, the conflict is caused by human greed and stupidity.  Again, a piece of entertainment, not a road map to the future.

So, do you think that Elon Musk was going on about nothing, or do you think his comments have some merit?


One response to “Too Much Binge Viewing?

  1. Looks like Stephen Hawking, of all people, has also jumped on this crazy bandwagon. In this Space Daily piece, Hawking pretty much makes statements similar to Elon Musk, though it seems that he was more influenced by the “Terminator” franchise than “Galactica” or “R.U.R.”

    However, I am willing to cut Hawking a bit of slack. It has been recently announced that his disability is progressing and that there is the very real possibility that he might be unable to operate his computer speech system in the not-too-distant future. That would mean that Hawking would lose his sole means of communication and essentially be cut off from dealing with the outside world. Such a grim prospect could easily warp someone’s mind, even one as brilliant as his.

    But, when it came to the subject of a conflict between humanity and artificial intelligence, I think the late Sir Arthur C. Clarke had the best response when he commented that, if there ever was such a conflict, the machines would not be the ones who fired the first shot.


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