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Fear of aliens in the public consciousness gave way to the fear of artificial intelligence
Material posted : Administrator Publication date: 07-03-2018

American experts on unidentified flying objects proposed to build a reception center for visitors from outer space. To the right is a Hungarian-born Colman von Keviczky, a former UN official, left, Karl Viet, President of the German branch of the community of UFO research; photos of the international conference on UFOs, October 31, 1967 in Mainz, Germany. In the foreground is a table lamp in the form of a flying saucer.

In 2004, while conducting a training flight over the Pacific ocean two US Navy pilot reported an unusual phenomenon: the mysterious, incredibly fast flying object, skeptisim sea that raged in the air, and can fly about 100 miles per minute with no visible engines.

This episode was one of many exposed to the research through a highly-classified program of the Ministry of defense, who worked from 2007 to 2012, with the support of a group of U.S. senators. New York Times article about this program referred to a secret warehouse in Nevada, where the government may holds the "alien alloys", obtained with a similar flying objects.

In the old days these rumors and revelations would lead society into a frenzy. They would have joined the Roswell incident and Area 51 in the Pantheon of conspiracy discussions on the subject of UFOs. However, in 2018 the possible existence of aliens barely breaks through the news flow, mostly scored such mundane issues as scandals involving sexual harassment, the government shutdown and the decision to reduce the collection of taxes from corporations. Instead, we are more worried about other threats to our life: artificial intelligence.

Having an affair with aliens

Not long ago, the society seized the prospect of meeting with little green men and unidentified flying objects. For decades, we were interested in the unknown Universe and the fact that it can exist – and this obsession was looking at us from the screens of cinemas and television.

The film "Close encounters of the third kind" Steven Spielberg offered a harmonious first contact with interstellar travelers. "Alien" gave kids hope that they can stumble upon an alien friend in the tool shed. The original trilogy of "Star wars" George Lucas has brought to life a whole galaxy filled with alien life. "Star trek" showed an encouraging spectacle of mankind, escaped in a wonderful space, filled with discoveries, research and adventure.

The downside, of course, was the concern that something we can find outside of the planet, will try to either kill or enslave us. Franchise "Alien", James Cameron exploited the fear of loss of our position on the top of the food chain. Alien beings have infiltrated our bodies and minds in the TV series "Secret materials". In the first episode of "South Park" Eric Cartman teleported to beam aboard the flying saucer, and subjected to anal probing. And in the simpsons, Kang and Kodos have influenced the US presidential election of 1996, insolence, and superior "Russian hackers". [in the American media actively discussed the expected involvement of Russian secret services in the 2016 elections, which were won by Donald trump / approx. transl.]

Twenty years later, science fiction still fascinates the audience. Accountants of the film "the Last Jedi" will tell you that people still love a good space Opera. "The arrival" and "Alive" recently told stories about encounters with aliens interesting and successful ways, and we even have time for the big bad alien villain, who we will see in 2018, thanks to the film "the Avengers: infinity War".

But the prospects of a meeting with beings from the stars does not seem to us so wonderful and frightening, as it once was. We don't have to go into space in search of the future: it is already here in our pockets (and it can order a delivery of Chinese food).

The robotic revolution

When we turned away from the stars and fell down at the screens, our concern about the fate of humanity has also changed. We are not afraid that the aliens will take our future – we now have to worry about the technologies that we create on our planet.

The development of the AI performs a more and more unpleasant scenarios, of which we warned the old blockbusters devoted to aliens. In 2016, the first attempt of Microsoft to produce an AI-bot Tay has become in the recognition of love to Hitler, just an hour after the start of the project. Director of Tesla Ilon Musk urged the UN to ban the use of weapons with the AI before it will carry out "the third revolution in military Affairs". And in China, the government deploys security cameras with AI that is able to follow the 1.3 billion people more than ever dreamed of Big Brother.

With the development of the presence of AI in movies and on TV blowing up us aliens seem almost old-fashioned attractive compared to the scary uncertainty of the world revolving around a computer. Will Smith went from saving the Earth from destruction by aliens to rescue her from her robotic servants running amok. At a later time "From the machine", "Robot named Chappy" and "Superiority" tried to explore the complexity arising from the blurring of the lines between human and robot.

However, the concern of intelligent machines is not new. It all started, most likely, Ridley Scott's 1982 "blade Runner". A terrific image of the randomly built-up, smothered by the smog of the future, filled with bounty hunters, muttering "improve" in the direction of grainy images on computer screens.

Epic ribbon-style neonoir introduced into popular culture the concept of intelligent machines, almost indistinguishable from humans, and asked the audience the question – where does our humanity and starts them.

Two years later appeared the franchise "Terminator", have replaced the existential and atmospheric reflections of Scott dressed in the skin of Arnold Schwarzenegger with a giant gun. "Inhuman, tireless, unstoppable" – promised the trailer for "Terminator", consolidating the materialized view of the severe destruction from the face without emotion in the public consciousness, and warning us about the world we create at your peril.

The Wachowski brothers [now sister] in 1999, went even further with his "Matrix", referring to the attentive minds that could not escape the feeling that the world is something wrong. "What is real? How to define "real"?" – asked the immaculately dressed Morpheus, relegating humanity to a complex battery designed to fuel the dominance of robots. Scientists and crazies since arguedoes not exist, whether we are in a giant simulation.

In 2013, the movie "It" spike Jones described a near future in which we don't just rely on personal AI assistants: we are building a relationship with them, fall in love, and in some cases trying to have sex with them. "Blade runner 2049" also used the idea that an artificially created Replicant will be able to have a relationship with people beyond the creators invented their roles. People already refer to digital assistants like Alex or Syria as living people, but Jones and Scott went further, submitting that the AI will grow us emotionally and spiritually and also intellectually, of what we will be even more lonely than before.

For 30 years, from the time when "blade Runner" made us wonder about our future intimate relationships with machines, the need to tell stories about AI in the future tense disappeared. Although more fantastic stories like "Electric dreams" still jump decades into the future, the last season of "Parks and recreation" portrays a dystopian present in which global technomania with a positive image uses private data of people in order to send them personalized gift baskets with the help of drones.

And then there's "Black mirror". In addition to sinister precision with which he predicted the scandal with the British Prime Minister and his antics with a pig, it keeps giving nightmare scenarios, close enough to reality to make this show seems almost prophetic: digital "grain" that is installed behind the ear that records everything that we hear and see; the app, rewarding and punishing people based on social ranking, put together; the hackers tried to blackmail people secretly made recordings they masturbate in front of camera laptop.

Even science fiction acknowledges that we now have more reason to worry than aliens: we are.

In the movie "Avatar" in 2009, Cameron flipped the script for "aliens vs humans" which he created 30 years ago in Alien. This time the aliens the Na'vi are playing the role of losers, fighting with the greedy enemy, the military – with us. The battlefield is not the Earth is Pandora, a resource rich moon that a private security company is trying to get to prey. The universe is not trying to condemn us for anything; people are doing a great job with it yourself.

And if this post seems close to reality, then the same can be said regarding the warning from the Stanley Kubrick film "2001: a Space Odyssey". Although the image is Kubrick malicious inhuman intellect, warring against their creators, it was revolutionary, the ability of HAL 9000 to the expression of emotion is also very well remembered. "I'm scared. I'm scared, Dave. My mind is failing I can feel it" — monotone says HAL, when it forcibly deactivates, pleading not to take away from him the consciousness that people gave him for a short time before to take back.

As culture shows, our fears of space and computers with superhuman abilities – nothing compared to the tendency of people to violence. Even in the most bombastic sci-Fi blockbusters can be traced to the same message:

We need not be afraid of the aliens or of artificial intelligence, because the worst enemy for us is ourselves.


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