FOR A SPECIES that's conquered Earth and traveled through space and invented the Slapchop, we humans sure are insecure when it comes to technology. Our greatest fear: the singularity, when the abilities of AI and robots surpass those of humans, growing so advanced that civilization is forced to reboot as humanity spirals into existential dread. Or worse, the machines turn us into batteries, à la The Matrix.
As fun as that all sounds, UC Berkeley roboticist Ken Goldberg thinks the singularity is bunk. "I think it's counterproductive," he says. "I think it's demoralizing and it's fiction. We're not even close to this."
The robot revolution we are in the midst of is actually way more interesting. Goldberg calls it the multiplicity. "Multiplicity is not science fiction," he says. "It's something that's happening right now, and it's the idea of humans and machines working together." So welcome to the future, where robots do things like gently hand us screwdrivers instead of stabbing us with them.