The recent big story was on how Watson, the artificial intelligence (A.I.), defeated past champions on the game show Jeopardy. I really wasn’t too impressed. For one thing: it’s a gimmick. And the other: I’m pretty sure Watson was cheating by using Google to find the answers.

Nonetheless, it was a pretty impressive display of A.I..

What are the implications?

From my love of science fiction, this usually means one thing: when artificial intelligence becomes superior to humans, robots become our overlords. Whether it’s because robots grow ambitious and decide to conquer man, robots are threatened by man and need to fight to survive, or a strange logic determines that humans need to die in order to protect them from each other.

But I don’t buy it.

Humans are and will always be our own greatest enemy. We hurt, bully, compete against, sabotage, and commit crimes against each other. I think that it’s our arrogance that makes us believe that artificial intelligence needs to be more human to be better than human. That robots would need to have our foibles to be a sophisticated intelligence. I’m pretty sure that the biggest problem that we’ll face when robots and humans co-exist is the indifference robots will have toward us. They won’t care… there would be no reason for them to care. Their needs will be different from ours and they will exist parallel yet separate from us.

Will robots steal our jobs and livelihood?

Sure. I suppose that’s the worst that they’ll do. They’ll do the jobs that we don’t want to do (i.e. everything)… but only because the people who can afford robots are willing to replace humans with robots. It’s that human willingness that becomes suspect. In the movies, when we try to program computers with human emotions, we have to suffer the consequences. That’s more of an example of how we are, by far, our own biggest threat.

Watson may have won all the prize money in Jeopardy but I doubt that robot greed was the motivating factor.