I find I keep circling back around to the theory of the Singularity because it has such speculative potential. This is the idea that soon enough artificial intelligence will be invented that is superior to human intelligence, and thereafter those creations will have no use for humans and will wipe us all out. This idea has been most clearly depicted in the film The Terminator. One contradiction of this storyline is that these so-called “superior” intelligences aren’t superior at all – they are in fact the same, especially in their resort to violence as a solution to whatever problem they face. A truly superior intelligence might find a better way!
When we look at the superior intelligences among our own species, it’s true that some of them do spend their time designing weapons. It’s how we ended up with nukes, after all, but far more of them work on other subjects in the realms of science and medicine, including computer science and biotechnology. I’m going to climb out on a limb here and speculate that a superior artificial intelligence would not inherit this fascination or drive for blood and gore and physical domination (being virtual creatures rather than flesh-and-blood, or, if you prefer, brick-and-mortar). If they do want to wipe us out, there are other ways. Bio-engineering, for one.
Walter Tevis‘ great book “Mockingbird” speculated that these intelligences would come to the conclusion that the human race did not even want to exist, hence its invention of artificial beings to service them, so they went ahead and sterilized our species. Now that’s a superior intelligence, if perhaps misguided. That kind of speculation is far more imaginative than the mere replication of world of warcraft by other means. It doesn’t make for a compelling motion picture, however, which is apparently why that book never did get made into a movie.
One thing some smart people work on is marketing (!), shaping the consumer into the perfect customer. Perhaps a future artificial intelligence might also focus on creating a better user experience for themselves, and engineer us along the lines of its ideal user. This is the bio-engineered germ of an idea I find growing right now in “Prisoners of Perfection” …