When Ro­bots Rule

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Sun­day, 7.30pm, Dis­cov­ery When Bill Gates ap­peared on ABC1’s Q & A last month he said ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence was ‘‘ doable’’ but would take ‘‘ at least five times as long as [fu­tur­ist] Ray Kurzweil says’’. The mak­ers of this doc­u­men­tary about the un­stop­pable rise of the ma­chines seem to be firmly in the Kurzweil camp. He doesn’t ap­pear but fa­mous the­o­ret­i­cal physi­cist and fu­tur­ist for hire Mi­chio Kaku is all over it. The lan­guage is fan­tas­tic. There is talk of the ap­proach of ‘‘ the sin­gu­lar­ity’’ (well known to fans of the Ter­mi­na­tor films), the point at which ma­chines be­come self-aware and self- de­ter­min­ing, be­yond which events can­not be pre­dicted. A su­per mil­i­tary ar­ray is known as ‘‘ Bat­tlenet’’, and a bof­fin says that when ma­chines are tril­lions (tril­lions?) of times smarter than us they will re­pro­duce and we will be ir­rel­e­vant. Un­less, of course, we re­tain the ‘‘ off’’ switch. Mock news­casts from 2030 — dis­ap­point­ing be­cause they look ex­actly like the news­casts of to­day — are un­in­ten­tion­ally hi­lar­i­ous. Ap­par­ently we will still get pompous, self-im­por­tant mu­sic and those dumb tick­ers along the bot­tom of the screen. In the story ‘‘ Ro­bots In­vade the Work­place’’ a ticker slides by: ‘‘ When Aliens At­tack big win­ner at 83rd Emmy Awards, hosted by Keanu Reeves.’’

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