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Wednesday, September 27, 2006
The runaway Internet
PBS's Newshour with Jim Lehrer last night hosted the director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, Lee Rainie. He discussed the results of a recent survey of leading Internet thinkers and policy-makers about their predictions for the state of the Internet in 2020.
The most eye-opening bit to my mind is that 42% of respondents --- a significant minority -- agreed with the following statement:
By 2020, intelligent agents and distributed control will cut direct human input so completely out of some key activities such as surveillance, security, and tracking systems that technology beyond our control will generate dangers and dependencies that will not be recognized until it is impossible to reverse them.
One respondent to this scenario, Paul Saffo, director of the Institute for the Future, wrote:
Now, fear of enslavement by our creations is an old fear, and a literary tritism. But I fear something worse and much more likely -- that sometime after 2020 our machines will become intelligent, evolve rapidly, and end up treating us as pets.