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Resistance Is Futile 5 September 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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Warning -- today's column is scary!

It looks as if mankind's only chance of surval is genetic engineering -- or at least that's what world-renowned mathematician Steven Hawking is saying.

Clearly a devout believer of Moore's Law, Hawking is telling the world that we have to get our fingers out and start tweaking human DNA to ensure that our own brains can stay ahead of the rapidly escalating processor power we've been creating.

If we don't keep up, he warns, these computers could "take over the world."

Uh, oh -- it sounds like one of the wheels has fallen off Steve's wheelchair!

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His claim is that by the year 2030, Moore's Law will have meant that we'll be building computers that are a million times more powerful than the latest 2GHz Intel Pentium 4 and that these machines will be as intelligent as we are.

From then on -- Moore's Law predicts that they'll overtake our capacity for intelligent thought and we'll be doomed.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • Net Scam... - Peter
  • Web based AI... - Giles
  • Genetics and survival... - Allister
  • Have Your Say

    So are you scared?

    If the wheels are still firmly attached to your chair then I trust you have spotted the flaw in Mr Hawking's speculation.

    We already have computing power many, many times that of the average desktop PC -- and it's being used by organisations such as SETI through their Seti at Home program.

    The Net has allowed us to connect a huge number of computers together to, in theory, create a processor that is already larger than the average human brain. However, no great independent intelligence or consciousness has awakened from this global brain -- and there's no reason to suspect that it will.

    Let's face it -- despite our best attempts at simulating intelligence in the laboratory, we still don't understand exactly how "consciousness" or real human intelligence works. Besides, I'm sure that all the God-fearing amongst us will be happy to suggest that it takes more than a huge brain to make an intelligence.

    You can read more in this story from ZDNet

    Quite frankly I think the real threat to our continued freedom and survival as a race may well come from technology -- but it's spelt .NET and HailStorm.

    What do you think -- is the end of mankind just 30-40 years away? Will computers take over? Is the Internet the work of the devil?

    By the way -- is it just coincidence that Steven Hawking's speech synthesizer sounds remarkably similar to the voice of a Dalek? Uh-oh! Is this Stephen Hawking's next chair???

    Oh, Oh, I'm Scared!
    As if being worried about my PC outsmarting me wasn't enough, I'm now trembling in my boots at the prospect of being sued by ING (see yesterday's column).

    They've even told IDG that they're going to sue.

    Hmmm... must be time for a sleep I'm so frightened.

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