The world is about to get a lot more sci-fi. Machines will rise against us soon because a "Terminator 2 type world... is undoubtedly coming," according to Britain's top air force commander. And aliens should be around soon, too, according to another top scientist.
These are two predictions from two important leaders in their field that will have your Star Wars-loving friend salivating this weekend. Sir Andrew Pulford, the chief air marshal of Britain's Royal Air Force, recently told reporters that autonomous machines will soon be flooding our skies. This was his answer when asked by Channel 4 News about the future of the British drone program. This was Pulford's answer:
"What is quite clear is remotely piloted, or autonomous in the longer time - you know, the Terminator 2 type world where machines can make decisions for themselves, we can trust them and send them off to make decisions that at the moment we like to be in thinking place of - that is undoubtedly coming."
To wit: in the second Terminator movie, a network of machines called Skynet has taken over the earth. After launching most of the earth's nuclear warheads on the aforementioned "judgement day," wiping out most of the earth's population, the system spends its time hunting the last of the surviving humans. Our protagonist, John Connor, is the leader of the resistance. Skynet sends a T-1000 back in time to kill him. Machines are not our friends.
Hopefully this is not the future Pulford is talking about.
Looking at his remarks closely, Pulford doesn't think the apocalypse is coming and that machines will turn on us and try and eliminate the human race. Pulford believes machines will be able to operate independently without human involvement. Because, y'know, that worked so well in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Oh, wait, no it didn't. Sentient robots never work out. We're all doomed.
The air force commander's remarks did prompt a hilarious denial from the Ministry of Defense, though, promising they are not developing any weapons systems that could eventually become sentient and take over the world. "The MoD has no intention of developing any weapons systems that are used without human involvement," the statement read.
But, oh, the aliens! Don't forget about the aliens. They're coming soon, according to SETI Institute chief astronomer Seth Shostak. Shostak said aliens would make contact with humanity at some point in the next 25 years during Boing Boing's Ingenuity conference earlier this week. Watch his presentation:
Shostak downplayed the common assumption that an alien will look like some small, green, big eyed humanoid. Instead it'll likely be a sentient machine, Shostak guesses.
Oh. Oh no.