The greatest minds of our times, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, believe humanity will end 'Terminator style' due to artificial intelligence (A.I.), which, simply put, is computers thinking for themselves. "Success in creating A.I. would be the biggest event in human history," Hawking wrote in a co-authored column in May last year. "Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks."
Some scientists believe it’s probably not going to be robot armies, but an event called 'the Singularity,' which they believe is only decades away and could combine with A.I. to have an explosion, bringing humanity to its knees.
The debate turned quite hysterical with Hawking reiterating the threat with comedian John Oliver on the HBO show, "Last Week Tonight.”
Oliver asked: "I know you're trying to get people to be cautious there but why should I not be excited about fighting a robot?"
"You would lose," said Hawking.
Science fiction provides scores of variations on human form and capacity often in the form of man-made monsters and villains. Indeed, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein looms as a prophetic recognition of the unlimited possibilities of humans crossing known thresholds in the creation of alternative human forms and processes.
Increasingly, conventional views of human nature are becoming obsolete in the face of scientific, technological, and medical developments. As the opening piece by Anthony Marsella, known internationally as a pioneer in the study of culture and psychopathology, argues: “These developments are of such proportion and consequence that they are altering human nature as we once knew it – or thought we knew it? The changes build on one another, each extending the other and opening new possibilities. Do we get that?”
It’s interesting, for even as we dwell into these changes in human nature comes the realization that this year is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. One of the world's most celebrated documents, some 3,550 words long and written in Latin, it was Magna Carta that established for the first time the important principle – everybody, including the king, was subject to the law.
This issue really is a mélange of articles looking at human nature and the quest for improvement amidst the uncertainties that cloud the future. So, even as we dwell into Magna Carta and Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, we also explore how the availability of information technology even in remote areas is going to open a new chapter for women in India.
Lest we forget March 8 is International Women's Day, and the theme this year is MAKE IT HAPPEN!