The real threat

Our minds are captivated by the threat of machines turning human. From HAL9000 in 2001 Space Odyssey, the Terminator series to the Matrix, Hollywood speaks to this fear in every era.

Konrad Zuse, the inventor of the first programmable computer, once claimed, ‘The danger of computers becoming like humans is not as great as the danger of humans becoming like computers.’ The real threat may actually be the opposite of what we fear.

Right from the industrial age, the machines we use have rendered us more in their likeness. An assembly line requires workers to perform repetitive, mechanical and mindless actions, in striking similarity to the machines they operate. Most computer programmers have experienced how the ruthless efficiency and optimization demands of their instruments spill into their everyday lives as well. As the cliché goes, wielding a hammer for too long distorts the manner in which you see the world.

Even as machines turn humanlike, how can we guard against humans turning machinelike?

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