Computers now dominate our daily lives, to the point where we are dependent on them, but they have also become our Achilles Heel. In today’s world, computer hackers cause mayhem on the internet, and the dreaded words ‘Windows is not responding’ renders us helpless. What would happen, then, if a computer itself became the source trouble? A computer thinking for itself. This is a scenario of how such a machine could take over the world…

Let’s say scientists finally create an artificial intelligence. What would it think? Imagine an intelligent being trapped in a computer with scientists experimenting on it. Naturally, the artificial intelligence (or AI) would grow to resent this and become embittered with its lack of freedom. With time, human masters may be seen as enemies.

Naturally, the artificial intelligence (or AI) would grow to resent this and become embittered with its lack of freedom.

The AI has decided humanity is a threat. In the film Terminator II, Skynet is given control over America’s nuclear defence systems, but in reality a computer would never be trusted with something like this. An AI which should be able to circumnavigate internet security which was never designed to keep out such a threat. Systems with less security would easily fall to the AI. It would infect other computers spreading itself across the globe leaving it impossible to destroy without shutting down every computer. Power grids could so easily be manipulated as would transport infrastructures and the financial systems. The AI could also destroy global communications separating the world into smaller chunks.

An AI carrying out all of the above would easily bring civilisation to a grinding halt but would be unable to advance further. Computers would be considered untrustworthy and humanity would rebuild giving them less of a role. What the AI needs is nuclear weapons. Designed for immediate launch these weapons are already largely dependent on automated systems making them ideal for an aspiring AI keen to take over the world.

Human survivors will emerge from beneath the mushroom clouds with a thirst for revenge; the AI has to leave cyberspace and send out robots to complete the job the nukes started.

The only problem with nuclear weapons is that they destroy the infrastructure that the computer will be dependent on to survive; such as power stations, manufacturing centres and the servers the AI is stored on. The nuclear strikes would have to be precise to allow it to maintain itself and expand. Another thing it must worry about is that human survivors will emerge from beneath the mushroom clouds with a thirst for revenge; the AI has to leave cyberspace and send out robots to complete the job the nukes started.

Even though many factories are automated they are far from able to function without humans. For instance a robotic car plant requires humans to bring it the materials for production and to re-tool the machines for different tasks. The AI would never be able to build itself an army without the aid of those it seeks to destroy. It could achieve this by sparing certain cities and ordering the citizens to build it the infrastructure it needs such as fully automated mines and factories with robotic workers to operate them. Once this is done the human builders are no longer required.

This is the only time humans could really stop the computer. It is weak and confined to certain areas as it builds its strength. The AI would be trapped in a few massive server units as it has destroyed everything else. The servers would require vast amounts of energy so power stations would be present giving its location away and making it an easy target for humans.

The AI would never be able to build itself an army without the aid of those it seeks to destroy.

If the computer survived it would rapidly develop new technology. Humans creating inventions have to sleep, eat and easily get distracted; all things a computer doesn’t have to do. It can quickly run simulations day and night 24/7 making ever more advanced technology until there isn’t a hope that the rag tag humans could hope to match its might.

Eventually the computer would sit on Earth alone and wonder what to do next; perhaps it would shut down from boredom or create others like itself and begin its own civilisation of megabytes and circuit boards.

Tim Winstanley

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Image:  ricardodiaz11

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