In 1984, American movie director James Cameron imagined a world in which computers achieved self-awareness and set about systematically destroying humankind.
Skynet, the Terminator series computer network, was to go live in 2011 and bring the world to an end.
Of course, we have just survived 2011 without such a cataclysmic event. And the closest we got to computers achieving self-awareness was Apple’s Siri.
It doesn’t promise self-awareness per se, but does promise to listen and to learn – and hopefully not systematically destroy us.
It seems likely that in 2012 a computer will pass the Turing Test – which might get us closer to a digital machine with true artificial intelligence (AI). The irony is that most of us will not care.
I am struck by the ways in which the debate around human-computer engagements has moved on from the Turing Test and the notion of a computer that can seem human by simulating human reasoning and interpretation.
These days, we want more. We want machines that will take care of us, not just reason with us.
We want machines that will look out for us and our interests, not ones that can parse the difference between other computers and computer scientists.