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Google and the Time-Traveling Killer Robots of the Future

06.25.2014
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Google's been making some interesting moves lately - the acquisitions of DeepMind, Boston Dynamics, and Nest, for example - which have been mysterious and exciting to many. Nobody's quite certain of the long-term goals, but if you put together all the evidence in any kind of reasonable way, there's only one real conclusion: the machines are coming.

(Source: Terminator Wiki)

That's what Bryan Bishop at The Verge guesses, at least. In this Terminator-themed fictional timeline that resembles a Biehn-starring short story more than your average piece of tech journalism, he assembles the half-joking fears of a number of Google critics and commentators into a look at what Google has done so far and what they may be planning. The ultimate result, of course, is the creation of SkyNet:

"In 2011 we found out they had a laboratory. Secret. Hidden. Working on what they called ‘moonshots.’" He veered onto the freeway interchange, heading north. The speedometer crept higher. "That’s when the projects started. Balloons that could create a network, anywhere in the world. Glasses that saw everything around you. A neural net that could teach itself. Just by watching cat videos."

"Who doesn’t like cat videos?"

"You’re missing the point!" He swerved hard right, bringing the car to a shuddering halt beneath an overpass. Killed the lights. Hiding. "What’s the date?"

I stammered. "Tuesday the 24th. June. "

"What year?"

If Bishop's tongue-in-cheek time travel feels a little absurd to you, it's worth noting that he's not the first to touch on this idea recently. Last week, Elon Musk brought up the same idea, suggesting the real possibility that AI could become a serious danger, and not long before that, Stephen Hawking mentioned it as well (though he didn't explicitly conjure images of Terminators).

So, that's not to say there's anything to worry about. But the next time you're sitting around pondering Honeywell and Nest, don't forget: Nest can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. 

UPDATE: this.