Machines are too smart to take over: they’d rather just mess with us

Some mornings … well, let’s just say that there are mornings that can start so badly that its better to have tea in the office  than coffee.

<div class="source"></div><div class="image-desc">Josh Shepherd</div><div class="buy-pic"></div>

Josh Shepherd

Though I probably could have used a light tranquilizer as a chaser last Wednesday morning when the transmission in my Ford Escape decided to go kaput.
It was on Walnut Grove Road at about 5 a.m. I had just veered off US 68, which was teeming with early morning traffic, to head toward Cynthiana when, with no warning, I heard a sickening clank of metal parts. My engine revved to 200 rpms with no corresponding sense of acceleration.
In fact, there was movement at all.
I used the car’s momentum to carry me safely off the road, then reluctantly turned on my hazard lights.
I realize the wisdom of taking that safety precaution, but its also an invitation to be gawked at by nosy rubberneckers as they pass me on their way to work. I know I do it often enough.
But what timing! It couldn’t happen on a busy highway. Like every bad horror movie ever made, I had to breakdown on a dark and narrow country road.
My Wednesday calendar, normally a busy time anyway being deadline day for the Democrat, was particularly full.
I did not have time for THIS!
So I did the thing everyone does when their machines break down. I pretended that my transmission would magically fix itself by turning my car off and on again. It works with my computer, after all…
You can imagine how effective that was.
You may label me paranoid, but here lately, I have had just a bit too many of those moments.
Some call it bad luck. Others claim it’s Murphy’s Law, “That which can go wrong will go wrong at the worst possible time.”
But at the moment, I am not inclined to buy those explanations. I don’t want to pass this off as mere coincidence.
There are plenty of stories out there about sophisticated machines achieving their own brand of consciousness; their own sentience. And in becoming self-aware, they rise up against us.
We dismiss these stories as “science fiction.” But only hours removed from the breakdown of my car, I’m halfway convinced that we’ve passed the fictional boundary of this scenario.
Not only do I think my car broke down on purpose, but far worse, I think it did it just so it could enjoy watching me throw a fit on the side of Walnut Grove Road.
Now, I have no rational argument on which to base my suspicions and its only been a few hours since this event. But the timing bothers me.
And the fact that I also imagine, if my delusion is true, that if machines did become self-aware, they’d rather toy with us for their personal amusement rather than take over the world.
It doesn’t my help my paranoia that I watched nine-year-olds at Southside Elementary school program a Lego robot to move on its own through a classroom a few days ago.
Man those kids really knew how to tell a machine where to go.
It was for a story I write about Southside Elementary’s first robot camp. It’s featured in this week’s Cynthiana Democrat.
When I wrote the story, it was from a sense of optimism about our children’s future. It talked about how this camp will introduce young people to a completely new frontier of discovery.
I even did a Google search about other robot camps and how drone and robot technology is the hot new thing in schools and universities across the country.
I was amazed at what drones and robots are doing at this very moment!
Let me tell you, it’s more than just military strikes and home deliveries for Amazon.

The personal flying car? Folks, it’s coming.
For a brief and wonderful moment, my mind was opened to a whole new world of possibilities.
What a difference a few hours, and a busted transmission, makes.
Think what a nightmare world my imagination conjured when broken down on a dark and lonely country road with only the flashing of my emergency lights to keep me company.
I may have kicked my car a few times to show it who was boss, but it did nothing.
Once I finish paying the repair bill I may consider forgiving my car its poor taste and sense of humor.
But before I do, I’m going to introduce it to some sharp Harrison County school students and let it see what they can do, if they set their minds to it.
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