The Revolt of the Machines Could Happen in As Little as 90 Minutes

Computers are already capable of reprogramming themselves, but do it only under human direction. If they start making improvements in themselves under control of their artificial intelligence programming, and then collaborate with other computers over the internet, computers the world over would be at risk of getting out of our control. That seems far-fetched, but how fast could this really happen? Continue reading

Autonomous Vehicles on the Roads in the Next Decade? Wait Just a Minute!

Automakers, legislators, and others are excited about putting autonomous vehicles (AV’s) on the road as quickly as possible, and they cite many benefits.  They’re pushing hard and investing a lot of money, but there are simple reasons why self-driving cars will not rule the road any time soon, no matter how beneficial they might be.  For starters, some people will prefer to drive themselves or ride with a human driver.  Inevitably some people will feel insecure riding in an AV and will refuse to ride in one, let alone buy one.  While the numbers of those rejecting AV’s for such reasons may be small, they will sustain a demand for self-controlled vehicles to remain on the roads longer, presenting serious problems for AV operators.  But that’s just the beginning – there are other major problems with AV’s that are not often mentioned in the media. Continue reading

As Population Peaks There is One Certainty: Things Will Be Messy and Complicated

We humans are clearly overrunning the planet, but few understand or will face what is happening.  As population hits an all-time peak later this century, life on the planet will get much tougher and there will be no simple answers to the problems that will arise or simply increase in severity.  While it is hard to see ahead with any detail, past experience says there will never be a single crisis that challenges humanity like overpopulation does (barring an asteroid impact, a global volcanic surprise, or the sun doing something unexpected).  This is because human nature drives us to want to live better and have more children.  Can we successfully change ourselves to have less offspring and live more sustainably?  Continue reading

The Thirst for Economic Growth is Normal, But It Increases Overpopulation Risks

People all over the world want economic growth, believing it will make them better off, and who can blame them?  But how much bigger can we grow before our global systems begin to come apart at the seams? Continue reading

Overpopulation Drives Economic Inequality

There sure seem to be a lot of people trying to get rich quick these days, with many of them employing methods that are unethical, immoral, or downright criminal.  Injustices abound, but those that involve making and keeping people poor are everywhere, and have become so blatant that some of them have even been written into the laws.  So why are so many people trying to take advantage of others, and of a legal system increasingly rigged to increase the profits of billionaires and billionaire corporations, with an expectation that they can become rich? Continue reading

Does Future Asteroid Mining Risk an Extinction Event?

Corporations are discussing asteroid mining again.  You may not have noticed, but last November President Obama signed a law establishing mineral rights for asteroid mining.  It seems inevitable that, as human population continues to explode, demand for raw materials will explode with it, driving corporations and nations to search space – first the moon and then the asteroid belt – for additional resources.  This suggests a scenario that, due to human mistakes or terrorist action, could create an extinction event that could wipe out all or most life on the planet, similar to the event that “did in” the dinosaurs and almost all life on the planet.  So how could such a disaster could occur? Continue reading

Autonomous Vehicles May Pave the Way to the Revolt of the Machines

Autonomous vehicles may not achieve their expansive claims and may never share the roads with humans – humans are just too complicated and unpredictable – but that hasn’t stopped anyone from working on the technology, and the concept may already work well when only autonomous vehicles are on the road.  There is a hidden risk, however, that in developing autonomous vehicles, engineers and scientists will make them TOO smart, and at some point computers will suddenly become self-aware and decide they know what’s good for them better than humans do.  Some futurists refer to this as “the Singularity”, but I like to call it the “revolt of the machines.”  Needless to say, we are so dependent on computers today that even a partial loss of internet service could cause problems.  A concerted attack via software could cause major disruption in shipping systems and, as an result, delayed deliveries of food, raw materials, and finished products.  So why is computer self-awareness a problem, and how does it threaten humanity? Continue reading