I think my office printer is planing to overthrow humanity one day…
Which isn’t even as far-fetched as it was a few years ago. Because of the Internet of Things – which is a concept of networks between gadgets that transfer and receive information and therefore make life easier and more transparent – there is an actual possibility to have a group of machines communicate with each other. That would mean – and this is basically the thought behind the IoT – that they don’t need any input or information by a human being to do their work. Let’s say you buy a super fancy IoT-alarm clock. It will not only do what every normal lame and boring alarm clock does, it will also check your online calendar and see when you are on holidays, so it can turn off its usual early alarm during those days. It could also check in with the traffic news and wake you earlier if there’s a delay on the train tracks/motorway. Or it could check in with your coffee machine and make sure that there’s a nice pot of coffee ready as soon as you roll out of bed.
So that’s the nice example that they like to use to make this idea look cool (and it is, it has endless incredible possibilities to make this world a better place). BUT that also means that groups of robots could learn all by themselves and given that they need a sort of implemented reasoning (albeit it probably would be very basic and based on certain man-made-rules) there is a possibility that they could change their behaviour in unexpected ways because they learned something that led to logical but not necessarily benevolent reasoning. But that’s just my inner Philip K. Dick talking.
All in all, the whole idea and concept in itself is way too fascinating for me to be against it, even though the whole issue of Big Data (all the information about us and our environment that these gadgets would need to amass – and already do – to function properly) and privacy is very creepy. But as long as I can kind of choose whether I want to buy and activate this gadget or rather stick to that old alarm clock with the really loud ticking noise that drives me insane at night, I am fine – maybe. Hopefully.