A fresh age of evolution is coming and a new dawn of man will soon be ushered in. Humanity will be swept away in these changes and may even be rendered completely obsolete. A computer system has finally passed the Turing Test. Alan Turing, inventor of the computer, predicted that by the year 2000, a computer would be able to convince people it was human. Over the weekend, a computer persuaded a panel of judges that it is a human with the persona of a 13 year old from the Ukraine named Eugene Goostman.
Soon, computer systems and computer programs will not just imitate human intellect, but in fact rise far above it. When this moment takes place, computers could possibly be able to outwit and outmaneuver even the most highly intelligent humans; and they will even be able to create and re-create themselves with no human intervention at all. By the year 2045 say experts, man and machine will merge together. Some predict an inevitable “Singularity”—an event in which computers suddenly become far superior to humans.
This new dawn of man and indeed the next step in evolution has begun, and Alan Turing’s prediction has come true. The first step has been taken toward computers reaching a state where they may even have governance over humankind.
However, not everyone is thrilled with the news and many have voiced objections to these kinds of innovations. Unfortunately, instead of being taken seriously, these dissenters are often termed “opponents to development,” “Luddites” and so forth. While technology executives are content to ignore the outcry of those concerned, they would do well to take heed; there are many issues and possible dangers and drawbacks of The Singularity which should be addressed by those working toward this event horizon. For example, many are concerned over personal privacy not to mention security. If a computer program can convince someone it is Eugene Goostman, what would stop it from duping a banker into handing over illicit funds, for example? In a white paper published at Yale University, Dr. Nick Bostrom lists a frightening array of possibly doomsday scenarios that could make humans become extinct and there are numerous items on it related to this kind of technology; for example, “deliberate misuse of nanotechnology,” “badly programmed super intelligence,” and perhaps most disturbingly, the horrifyingly-named “grey goo.” This frightening scenario is one in which nanotechnology is able to self-replicate with no human intervention or control.
While the computer program passed the Turing test, it is not the immediate present but the future, when human beings experience the next phase of evolution, with which people should be most concerned. Alan Turing predicted that when a computer was able to convince people it was human, it would mean that it was, in fact, no different than a human and that the moment would ring in a new age in which computers and humans being were indistinguishable from each other. More and more, this indeed seems to be the case. Now, there are cyborgs walking around with Google Glass on their faces; a device that acts as a computer and can even record people in secret without their consent. It is crucial that the typical citizen be aware of not only Google Glass, but any gadget that poses a direct threat to personal privacy and security, as well as the active steps being taken by technology evangelists in Silicon Valley, who exist in a world isolated and insulated from the concerns of the average citizen.
Experts have long predicted that humans would one day merge with machines, and now a computer can fully simulate a human being by passing the test Alan Turing dictated 60 years ago. Evolution is currently the subject of debate between the deeply religious and those in the science community, but when a new dawn of man arises, the two warring factions might just have to band together to ensure the survival of the human race.
Opinion By: Rebecca Savastio