Strange futures as told through headlines

Negotiating bots destroy large parts of Australia in an attempt to gain leverage on a deal for stapler pins

Recently, Facebook shut down its negotiation bots because they invented their own language. While the tech-circus media has turned it into a narrative on AI plotting to overthrow humans (which it is nowhere close to), there’s at least one key lesson while building negotiating bots here: mind the unintended consequences.

Extrapolating the kind of fears that Nick Bostrom vividly imagines, perhaps we could end up building single minded negotiation bots in the future that could end up going to any length to gain leverage for their purpose, even if it’s sourcing stapler pins. Just saying….

Robot unions demand basic minimum wage and a curb on unfair taxes

Well, it’s gotta happen eventually. At some point, for various reasons of governance and legislation, AI would need to be treated as entities of their own. They should be held liable for things. There’s nothing to say they won’t be increasingly treated on par with humans and held to similar standards.

Legal bot sues Tesla on behalf of a consumer for a predicted future harm

Can sophisticated AI sue for high-probability future events? It is certainly possible as the complexity and speed at which these deductions are made far exceeds human ability to comprehend and analyze — like predicting weather patterns from a millions of interconnected data points. At which point, we may have to just subject ourselves to the validity of these algorithms. Sure, eventually the systems will balance each other out but it’s just possible that there may be a period of transition news like this could become a common sight.

Depressed robots refuse to work. Companies rush human psychotherapists to fix the problem

Will growing sentience lead to creating complex brains that are just too smart for their own good? Will humans then help robots tide over their depression? Or will we just be the cats and dogs for our robot overlords?

Millions of addicts are prisoners of on-demand, AI-generated VR movies. Is this our future?

Today, we already have binge watching becoming a popular way of consuming entertainment. A vast majority of us spend a large part of our days staring into our phones. An immersive platform like VR is only like to worsen this. Is VR the new LSD?

Slum residents attack Mumbai OneWorld farms — make away with produce worth millions

Imagine Mumbai OneWorld. It’s a world in itself. Modeled like a futuristic space city, it has its own little artificial beach, shopping mall, sporting facilities, schools and entertainment. And even farms. Automated indoor farms supply fresh produce to all its residents on-demand. Across the city, there are other similar enclaves but Mumbai One World towers above them.

The rest of city is one large slum. Overcrowded, angry populace live under the watchful eyes of an overactive police. They eat processed food and subsist on universal basic income. Fresh greens are like gold.

The delicate balance tips at some point. Capitalism is dead. Long live capitalism.

Unknown hackers bring down transatlantic Hyperloop line — millions stranded on either side

Because, they can?

Military AI evacuates humans from Beijing to focus on manufacturing weaponry: Escalating AI conflict now consumes 40% of Earth’s landmass

AI taking over military decision under the construct of nation states naturally leads to bad game theory conclusions around arms race. Unless a larger world governance AI seeks to balance the quest for military security with general wellness, we may end up with chronic automated warfare consuming a greater and greater share of the world’s resources and efforts.

AI increasingly needs a global collective and we are yet to evolve into it as a species. Paris climate agreement is the first instance of a global agreement coming together for common good. Perhaps, in the coming years, we may begin to move towards a global frameworks for governance and wellness of human beings everywhere. But as Trump demonstrated, it takes only one idiot to reverse everything.

Uber set to build a parking city for on-demand, automated mobile living capsules below ground in Alaska

On-demand living? Could these living capsules dock into Hyperloop pods when we want to travel?

Space colonists are raving lunatics; and here’s the reason why

One aspect of space colonization that’s much less talked about — how does it impact the way the colonists think and behave. Would our habits, behavior and perhaps even morals change so much that it could be considered ‘mad’ by those that still stay back on Earth? Would it create a division between us that the colonists are being seen are an altogether different species?

Millions gather at the Moon for Burning Man 2080

Why not? I’m all for mega space events.

Micropaining — Meet the new pass-time of the rich

Could a greater understanding of our body (and brains) create permanent solution from pains? And then, would a niche seek pain as a sort of entertainment? A dip into what it feels to experience pain in little doses. Someone in the future would write a body-hack article on how experiencing little doses of pain everyday make him / her handle the day better.

PS: The massive dose of dystopia wasn’t intentional — the hangover from the kind of science fiction I grew up with. I’ll create another list of a blissful utopian future enabled by technology.