Ok, as much as I have been in sales for a long time, there is still a big part of me that will always be a nerd.  In fact, three of the people I idolize most are men who came from the world of science.

The first one is Thomas Edison, whom most of us know was an early pioneer / inventor in the world of electricity and music.  His dedication and persistence, along with his incredible intelligence is something I will always admire.  The second one is someone whom I have written about / quoted before and that is Albert Einstein.  Besides his obvious brilliance, Einstein had a personal side to him and great insight into many things.

The final one (and the only one who was alive for any significant part of my life) is Professor Stephen Hawking.  Sure, he is a brilliant man who has made significant contributions to the world of Physics, but I think it goes beyond that.  He is someone who has an incredible ability to not only see what others can't see or refuse to see. More importantly, he continues to push the envelope of what we know about the world more than anyone in history.  It is because of this that his most recent warning really scares me...

Recently, when Hawking was asked about the creation of Artificial Intelligence (AI), he said this:

"I think the development of full Artificial Intelligence could spell the end of the human race. Once humans develop Artificial Intelligence, it would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever increasing rate."

At first, the statement sounded a little "Terminator" like and I dismissed it as being something that was more talk than reality.  However, when I also read that Elon Musk (the founder of Tesla / SpaceX) also spoke out against this, it started to make me wonder.  Here is what Musk had to say on the topic:

"I think we should be very careful about Artificial Intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, its probably that, so we need to be very careful. Im increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we dont do something very foolish."

While Professor Hawking is extremely knowledgeable in just about all areas of science, it is an entrepreneur like Musk who may be the most influential in developing a solution that may in fact lead to the demise of humans.

What does this have to do with M2M / IoT?

A lot, actually.  Right now, machines really only know what we tell them.  A computer reacts to an input (a user, another machine, a sensor, etc) before acting.  By default, it does not know what the temperature of a remote area is....it is only when we attach a sensor to it that it is able to first receive this information and then (using software that is loaded up) able to perform an action based on that information.  To a certain extent, you can say that man has the major control over the machine.  However, as we consistently provide more information to the machines (through Big Data / IoT), my thinking is that we are potentially showing it the path to being able to live without us.  It would now (in theory) be able to understand and control such things as the Internet, Power grids and all forms of travel.  That is a really scary thought...

So, is all of this talk just talk?

The answer is probably.  There are a lot of safeguards that have been put into many programs / networks that will allow for these machines to be overridden as needed.  As well, even in the warnings by Hawking and Musk, they mention nothing about any current threat, but more to do with what "might" happen.  I think we are a long way away from an AI program that would be THAT intelligent.

The Bottom Line

As much as I think that the idea of AI taking over the human race is not a likely scenario, it makes sense (and is great) for two great minds like Hawking and Musk to make sure that they are using their respective public status to at least make sure that this topic stays in the minds of people who can effectively prevent it from happening.  I would hate to think that 15+ years of M2M work would mean that I contributed (in any way) to the demise of humans.  In the meantime, I like to think that we won't allow the world to be taken over by "Skynet" (fellow nerds will recognize that as the evil AI program from the Terminator Series), and that this will only have occurred in a great movie Trilogy!