The Super Rich Technologists Making Dire Predictions About Artificial Intelligence club gained another fear-mongering member this week: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Wozniak joined original club members Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk by making his own casually apocalyptic warning about machines superseding the human race.
"Like people including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have predicted, I agree that the future is scary and very bad for people," Wozniak said. "If we build these devices to take care of everything for us, eventually they'll think faster than us and they'll get rid of the slow humans to run companies more efficiently."
Doling out paralyzing chunks of fear like gumdrops to sweet-toothed children on Halloween, Woz continued: "Will we be the gods? Will we be the family pets? Or will we be ants that get stepped on? I don't know about that … But when I got that thinking in my head about if I'm going to be treated in the future as a pet to these smart machines … well I'm going to treat my own pet dog really nice."
Seriously? Should we even get up tomorrow morning, or just order pizza, log onto Netflix and wait until we find ourselves looking through the bars of a dog crate? Help me out here, man!
Wozniak's warning seemed to follow the exact same story arc as Season 1 Episode 2 of Adult Swim's "Rick and Morty Show." Not accusing him of apocalyptic plagiarism or anything; just noting.
For what it's worth, Wozniak did outline a scenario by which super-machines will be stopped in their human-enslaving tracks. Citing Moore's Law -- "the pattern whereby computer processing speeds double every two years" -- Wozniak pointed out that at some point, the size of silicon transistors, which allow processing speeds to increase as they reduce size, will eventually reach the size of an atom, according to the Financial Review.
"Any smaller than that, and scientists will need to figure out how to manipulate subatomic particles — a field commonly referred to as quantum computing — which has not yet been cracked," Quartz notes.
Wozniak's predictions represent a bit of a turnaround, the Financial Review pointed out. While he previously rejected the predictions of futurists such as the pill-popping Ray Kurzweil, who argued that super machines will outpace human intelligence within several decades, Wozniak told the Financial Review that he came around after he realized the prognostication was coming true.
"Computers are going to take over from humans, no question," Wozniak said, nearly prompting me to tender my resignation and start watching this cute puppies compilation video until forever.
"I hope it does come, and we should pursue it because it is about scientific exploring," he added. "But in the end we just may have created the species that is above us."
In January, during a Reddit AMA, Gates wrote: "I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence." His comment came a month after Hawking said artificial intelligence "could spell the end of the human race."
British inventor Clive Sinclair has also said he thinks artificial intelligence will doom humankind. "Once you start to make machines that are rivaling and surpassing humans with intelligence, it's going to be very difficult for us to survive," he told the BBC. "It's just an inevitability."
Musk was among the earliest members of this club. Speaking at the MIT aeronautics and astronautics department’s Centennial Symposium in October, the Tesla founder said: "With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like, yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Didn't work out."