Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Skynet is activated today

According to the Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show, the defense network Skynet is activated today at 8:11PM. This Thursday it becomes self-aware and takes over the planet. Singularity Hub is covering this story as it develops / descends into chaos.

There isn't a lot of cross-over between One Laptop per Child and the Terminator franchise. We believe that computers can empower kids with access to information and new skills, and the movies say that we will soon be pitted against our technology for survival. Terminator does bring up two really good points, though:

Inevitability of Technology

No matter how much the heroes tried to hinder Skynet, by sabotaging chess matches or preventing nuclear meltdowns, they never could stop it from being built. There are technologies that we have postponed - human cloning has been possible for 10 years, and yet no Total Recall. Predator drones (officially) only fire when commanded by people. But do you believe that will last forever? Skynet theory is that no matter how you influence one programmer or another, the final product - superhuman AI - is too useful to avoid creating.

But one of the main reasons I volunteer for OLPC, despite shortcomings here and there, is that educational technology is inevitable. It's up to us to make sure that the pioneers get some things right -- like including creativity and local open source folks. Otherwise we will be like the communist planet in "A Wrinkle in Time".

Your future is set - now what?

Even before John Connor is born, it's set that he's going to have to fight the robots and take back the world. In some ways it's pretty cool, but it weighed heavy on him in the TV series. Knowing that the world was in trouble, but that by facing it head-on, in the long run he might be able to do something about it.

It's an interesting way to look at climate change, energy, or the economy.

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