The age of robots

_Our artifacts are getting smarter, and a loose parallel with the evolution of animal intelligence suggests one future course_ _for them. Computerless industrial machinery exhibits the behavioral flexibility of single-celled organisms. Today's best_ _computer-controlled robots are like the simpler invertebrates. A thousand-fold increase in computer power in this decade_ _should make possible machines with reptile-like sensory and motor competence. Properly configured, such robots could_ _do in the physical world what personal computers now do in the world of data--act on our behalf as literal-minded_ _slaves. Growing computer power over the next half-century will allow this reptile stage will be surpassed, in stages_ _producing robots that learn like mammals, model their world like primates and eventually reason like humans._ _Depending on your point of view, humanity will then have produced a worthy successor, or transcended inherited_ _limitations and transformed itself into something quite new. No longer limited by the slow pace of human learning and_ _even slower biological evolution, intelligent machinery will conduct its affairs on an ever faster, ever smaller scale, until_ _coarse physical nature has been converted to fine-grained purposeful thought._
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