LIB 200

December 1, 2015


Special Report

Technology, Friend or Foe?

The Pitch

Our final project will explore the possible scenarios which will demonstrate how the emergence of an advanced AI can be a valuable piece of technology to humans, and also how conscious, post-singularity AI can become a threat to the human race. It is important for our audience to become aware of this controversial issue, as experts in the field of technology assure us, that we will be helpless to prevent from becoming a reality. We hope to present an educated perspective that takes two possible outcomes, one positive and the other negative, into account when discussing Artificial Intelligence. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of how quickly technology is advancing and that in the very near future humans will no longer be the most intelligent beings on the planet. If humanity cannot find a way to peacefully co-exist with machines that will eventually become superior to us in every way, there is a distinct possibility that homo sapiens will become extinct.

Furthermore, we want our audience to contemplate the inevitability of Artificial Intelligence and be open and accepting of these events, and realize that whether they are in favor of or against it, these events are destined to occur. The Singularity, an event where machine intelligence will become superior to the intelligence of humans, is not an imaginary scenario that we are exploring as science fiction, but is a real-life global issue.

We believe that the audience will be interested in our project because it discusses events that will affect not just a small portion of the population, but all of humanity. We anticipate that our project will create more self-awareness within the viewer. One of the goals of this presentation is to make a difference by showing what could potentially come about in a worst case scenario situation. The audience can be anybody and we envision that not everyone will be aware of topics that we have discussed in class. We will expand on relevant ideas that would otherwise be unclear to help the viewer more easily understand the subject material. The format we have chosen to create our final project is video.

One possibility will be that our message is received and understood the way we hope. The other is that our message won't and when technology supersedes human intelligence, it will be too late for anyone to be prepared. Regardless, we may all be doomed to extinction. 

*We will use traditional video and audio for our medium.

The Research Narrative 

In our final project we set out to explore how the emergence of an advanced AI can either coexist harmoniously with humans, or how conscious, post-singularity AI can become a threat to the human race.The two assigned readings from class that we have decided to link to our thesis are Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near and Stuart Armstrong’s Smarter Than Us: The Rise of Machine Intelligence.

Ray Kurzweil, one of the world’s most inventive thinkers, and one who hopes to apply advances in technology to bring his deceased father back from the dead, is leaving a distinctive imprint on society. He has earned a reputation for himself by making highly accurate predictions on just how fast technology is advancing. His controversial ideas are detailed in his book The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Most notably, he states that an event known as the Singularity, the the moment in which artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence, will occur in 2045. Kurzweil claims that soon, "there won't be any clear distinctions between biological and nonbiological intelligence" and that AI, “equipped with delicate emotional cues” will eventually, "be even more humanlike than humans today" (378). His theory that advancements in nanotechnology will allow the fusion of nanorobots ”with our biological neurons to augment our senses, provide virtual and augmented reality from within the nervous system, assist our memories, and provide other routine cognitive tasks” is ambitious (377). Kurzweil himself admits that extending human lives with technology  has aspects of a slippery slope but shows promise.

The mere thought that one day soon machines will not only look like us, but be vastly more intelligent and superior than us in every way, simultaneously piques our curiosity and fills our hearts with dread. Armstrong advises his audience to use caution when dealing with AI, in his short book Smarter Than Us: Rise of the Machines. He warns the reader of the risks involved with the potential of intelligent AI, and states, “[N]ever trust an entirely trustworthy superintelligent AI. If it doesn’t have your best interests at heart, it’ll find a way to obey all its promises while still destroying you” (4). We will never be certain what the thoughts or motivations that an AI truly has, if any, or if it applies critical reasoning in its decision-making process. Therefore, it will be a dangerous game of cat and mouse played between human and AI to try to peacefully exist. At any given moment, there could be the potential that the AI will find it in their best interest to  “eliminate” the competition (humans) and claim the world for themselves as they continue to evolve into the Earth’s most (and last) dominant species.  

Exploring the information we learned from reading Kurzweil and Armstrong and watching films such as The Terminator and Ex-Machina inspired us to incorporate some of these ideas, while putting our own original spin on them, into a series of newscasts. The general public relies on news outlets to keep them informed and up to date on important events. A monumental event, such as the Singularity, deserves to be discussed and analyzed in a coherent and interesting way. Although our project is somewhat fictional, we will infuse our reports with factual information, such as relevant clips from the documentary Transcendent Man, featuring Ray Kurzweil, and quotes from Armstrong's short book Smarter Than Us: Rise of the Machines. Presenting this information through a series of newscasts also enables us to present a timeline to show how potentially positive events, over a short period of time, can gradually shift gears and become cataclysmic events.

Works Cited

Kurzweil, Ray. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. New York:    Viking, 2005. Print.


Armstrong, Stuart. Smarter than Us: The Rise of Machine Intelligence.  Berkeley:  MIRI, 2014. Print.

The Terminator. Dir. James Cameron. Orion, 1984. DVD.

Ex Machina. Dir. Alex Garland. Universal Studios, 2015. DVD