The Smart Machine Age: A New Game Requires New Rules

We can be humble and live a good life with the aid of the machines or we can be arrogant and die.

—Norbert Wiener

Norbert Wiener, an MIT mathematics professor and computer science pioneer, wrote those words in 1948 in a recently discovered unpublished essay for the New York Times. He literally meant them as an apocryphal warning about the dangers to humanity of uncontrolled advances in automation and artificial intelligence. For decades, such dire predictions remained on the fringe of societal concerns and relevant only to science fiction fans. The technologies that were only a gleam in Wiener’s eye, however, have finally come to fruition.

Smart machines are becoming autonomous and able to ...

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