Robot World Domination? Darwinism as Reductio ad Absurdum
Frequently in the sensationalist press (which is much of the press today) we find predictions, sometimes made by prominent scientists such as Stephen Hawking, that eventually computers, or robots, will take over the world and subjugate the human race. “If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself. This will be a new form of life which outperforms humans,” warns Hawking.
While Hawking does not mention mechanical robots, it seems clear that to take over the world, “AI” will have to be incarnated in something more solid than a series of 0’s and 1’s in our computer memories; we can always pull the plug on our own computers. Maybe, you suggest, some rogue scientists will design robots that can reproduce, and then robots could “evolve” by themselves. Maybe a robot could be designed that contained a robot factory inside, and could give birth to other similar robots — each with a robot factory inside it. Then perhaps species of robots could progress on their own, by natural selection acting on the minor duplication errors that arise when robots reproduce. Eventually, maybe these robots would evolve intelligence of their own, and become conscious, and subjugate us more slowly evolving humans.
But even if we could design robots with fully autonomous robot factories inside able to produce new robots with fully autonomous robot factories inside them, how many generations could this continue without any help from intelligent humans to fix the mechanical problems which would inevitably arise? Surely after a few generations, no matter how well-designed the robots were initially, without intelligent engineers to maintain the machinery, robot evolution would grind to a halt, as predicted by the more general statements of the second law of thermodynamics, not to mention common sense.
Who could believe such science fiction? Darwinists could, of course, because this is exactly what they believe has already happened on Earth once. If you believe a purely mechanical, unintelligent process such as mutation and natural selection could produce intelligent, conscious humans, why would you not believe it could happen again? And if you could believe the whole process started by pure chance the first time, wouldn’t it be even easier to believe it could happen again, with intelligent designers around this time to help get it started?
The reason Darwinism seems even remotely plausible to many people depends entirely on the incredible ability of living things to reproduce, generation after generation, without significant degradation over time. Darwinism seems plausible to many people (as long as they don’t think about the details) against the backdrop of real living species which, while awaiting accidents that might lead to further advances, incredibly, somehow, are able to maintain their current complex structures and pass them on generation after generation. We are so used to seeing reproduction without net degradation in the living world that we take it for granted. It seems “natural” to most people, but it is actually very unnatural. Imagining evolutionary progress through the accumulation of errors in robots as they duplicate themselves may help readers to appreciate how unnatural this process really is.
If you don’t realize how far beyond our technology the reproductive power of life is, I urge you to watch the magnificent video at the top of this post, “From Conception to Birth,” a TED Talk by mathematician Alexander Tsiaras. We have noted it before at Evolution News. “How do these instruction sets not make mistakes as they build what is us?” Tsiaras asks.
Perhaps we should be grateful to those Darwinists who propose nutty ideas such as robots taking over the world. By carrying their reductionist philosophy to its logical conclusions, they help us to see how out of touch with reality their reductionism really is, and when they do, they make an eloquent “reduction to an absurdity” argument against their own theory.