In Writing

terminatorYou know Skynet. It’s the artificial intelligence that gains self-awareness in the Terminator movies and then sends a cyborg Arnold Schwarzenegger back in time to kill the leader of the human resistance (and also to steal vaguely stereotypical homosexual biker gear and utter adorable catchphrases). After a week off from work to ponder such things, it occurred to me: Google is Skynet. The skull-crushing Armageddon is imminent.

Hear me out. Have you ever Googled something? You know when you start to type in your little question in the box… but Google already knows what you’re thinking before you do? And not only that, it knows all the other kooky things everyone else is thinking. Google sees us in moments our most intimate lovers and confidants don’t. It knows about our weird sexual curiosities and about the mole we want removed. Think about your co-workers and your boss seeing your Google search history. Shudder, right? At the very least, Google could blackmail the hell out of most of us. But you know when else it might come in handy to know the collective wants and curiosities of billions of people? When you are working on developing your own self-awareness.

Google cars were the first time I started to get mildly uneasy about Google’s intentions. Search engines are comfortingly abstract. But cars? Without a human driving? Although I’ve made it no secret that I have little faith in our species’ ability to operate moving machinery, the thought of turning it over to robot cars doesn’t feel much better. But the Google cars were cute, and suitably Jetsonian, so I let it go.

And finally this: Google has purchased Boston Dynamics, a company that is looking to build robots to send into combat with the U.S. military. WTH, Google? I thought you were the benevolent nerd that wanted to know it all, not the wounded one that secretly yearns to turn into the super-villain.

The days of Google’s Skynetization are not quite upon us, as apparently even the military doesn’t want the robot pack mule that Boston Dynamics has built. (And if you watch the video of it in action, you’ll understand why. It’s an awkward thing, what might emerge if your lawnmower and a dung beetle had a baby). But how long before the makers of Gmail and birthday doodles figure out how to make a cyborg Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Not long, my friends. Not long. Be very afraid.

Click here to see (and, more importantly, hear) the Google robot fail in action.

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