By Bob Weaver

Albert Einstein's alleged quote, "I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots," has never been confirmed, but it has its appeal to those of us who fear that 21st Century technology will dumb down our ability to critically think.

This century has so much hubris, we entertain ourselves to death.

Such thinking requires quiet time, absent from the noise and hubris of hundreds of TV channels, movies, hand-held electronic devices to stay connected, entertainment news, gaming, texting and tweeting.

Perhaps more distressing is that politicians and popular culture frequently ignore or discount civics and science, with the "dumbed down" achievement scores in our nation's schools being a warning sign.

Now comes a strange prediction that will join the hundreds of conspiracy theories, even if they're related to science.

Although over 90% of the world's leading scientists are warning about climate change linked to man-made causes, American politicos say it ain't so.

With great minds like Einstein and Carl Sagan gone, we had Stephen Hawking, who is on record regarding his greatest fear - human beings sacrificing to technology and artificial intelligence.

Further, the coming of robots to replace human beings. Hawking, before he died, spent time voicing his warning to humanity.

Snowballing artificial intelligence, dubbed AI, could outstrip humans and become a menace to biological people, Hawking says.

"It would take off on its own, and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded. … The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race," Hawking said.

Fast moving technology has already eliminated hundreds of thousands of jobs, even the simplest.

America's don't mind being spied upon.

Self-improving machines could turn against humans with horrible consequences, Hawking said.

Elon Musk, who has now fallen from grace and creator of the Tesla electric car and SpaceX flights, has warned that AI is "our biggest existential threat."

Orwell warned in "1984" that clever machines capable of undertaking tasks done by humans will destroy millions of jobs, that human beings will be at the mercy of "Big Brother," becoming robotic to its demands, destroying America's form of democratic government.

Once swords, guns and military power determined whose in charge.

Now it's technology.

That technology has allowed the Russians to interfere with US elections, of no concern to the Trump administration and Trump supporters.

America is moving toward an Oligarchy, a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. Those people could be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, religious or military control.

Such governments are often controlled by a few prominent holders who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next.

With voter turn-out in the US ever decreasing (WV led the nation with the lowest turn-out in the last election), gerrymandered voting districts the norm and the US Supreme Court giving person hood to corporations, we have already arrived without a whimper.

Lobbyists, for the most part, already have far more influence than popular opinion.

The current, insane polarization of the left and the right is a feeding frenzy that ignores negotiation, and is a tasty fodder toward Oligarchy.

What follows could be tyrannical control with much of it being enforced by Artificial Intelligence.

Hawking and three fellow scientists wrote, "Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. … Machines with superhuman intelligence could repeatedly improve their design even further … outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders and developing weapons we cannot even understand," in addition to not needing human input or labor.

Hawking's fear recalls a scene from Arthur Clarke's "2001-A Space Odyssey" (1968), where the on-board computer "Hal" takes over the space mission.

READ: HAL 9000 (character) quotes from 2001: A Space Odyssey

While Americans are being entertained to death and politically polarized, they will just stay angry, and watch it happen.

Hur Herald ©from Sunny Cal
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