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Artificial intelligence

Pathfinders: Robots of the World - You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Blockchains

The bosses own the means of production – that's what makes them bosses. So what will happen when the means of production own themselves? Er, come again? Yes, we are talking about automated intelligent production and distribution systems, managing themselves, recycling their income back into their own maintenance programmes, entirely without human agency. You call a cab, the cab turns up and it takes you (yes, it's driverless) where you want to go, debits your online account, and uses that income to buy its next 10 gallons of fuel and pay its automated garage cleaning and servicing subscription.

Pathfinders: War – the Enders in Sight

The recent news that a US soldier in Afghanistan has gone loopy and machine-gunned a whole bunch of small children will have shocked even those veteran war-observers with long memories of such ‘My Lai’-type massacres. With the omniscience of modern communications it is no longer feasible to hush up such inevitable excesses, and the incident is bad news for politicians and strategists trying to wind down Western involvement in Afghanistan and extricate their countries with some shred of dignity.

Pathfinders: Crystal ball gazing

Prediction is very difficult, the great physicist Niels Bohr once observed, especially about the future. Future trends in economics and geopolitics may be difficult to map out, but surely nothing is harder than attempting to guess what’s going to happen in the realms of science and technology in the next thirty years. Nevertheless, the UK Ministry of Defence has had a go. Within the broad sweep of their hundred page strategy document (see The Military Are Not That Unintelligent, page 14) the MoD’s think-tank, the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) includes an illuminating discussion on probable developments across the range of applied science, together with its implications for society and social stability.

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