Just as I’d figured out how my new coffee pod machine works, this insane SBS-produced doco had to come along and scare any desire to use it right out of me. Stay away from me and my thoughts, coffee pod machine!
Directed by Daniel Holohan and narrated by The Feed’s Jeannette Francis, Patrick Abboud and Marc Fennell, Sex, War, Robots is a disorienting reality check that unveils just how close our species is to coexisting with artificial intelligence. With particular focus on both the carnal and militaristic, the schmick documentary reveals how far we’ve come with robotic technologies and provides a relentless succession of alarming predictions that make living off the grid seem an attractive option. It also answers the following questions...
How soon will we experience "the singularity"?
The technological “singularity” is the prophetic moment where humans outrun biology and artificial intelligence surpasses our own. Experts have predicted this event will result in a rapid shift in the global status quo, going as far as claiming our reign as humans will come to an end. Sex War Robots reveals the latest predictions as to when this might/will happen – it’s probably sooner than you think.
Will AI technology wield our internet activity against us?
Whatever we do on the world wide web adds detail to our internet footprint. As we spend years searching Google, interacting on social media and making online purchases, we're simultaneously leaving a “virtual paper trail” that gives a sense of our habits, opinions, likes and dislikes. What happens if an advanced robot got a hold of this data? How could it manipulate or curry favour with us?
Could your future partner be a cyborg?
Don’t scoff just yet. The sex robot industry is already ballooning, and the technology is moving closer and closer towards the ability to recreate human aesthetics and behaviour. The further we travel into the near future, the more dynamic and programmable these faux-humans will become. Through the installation of chat bots, sex robots are able to “get smarter” by learning from interactions. Chat bot technology has already managed to beat the Turing test (i.e. convince a human that they were human) and thanks to advances in 3D-printing, soon they’ll look so lifelike they might also fool us face to face.
OK, but they’ll always just be robots, right?
Not sure if you heard of Lilly, the French “robosexual” who wants to marry her 3D printed beau? Or this Chinese gentleman, who laughed in the face of authorities and held an unofficial wedding with the robo-belle he created? What about the 2017 EU "Robot Bill of Rights" – a document that attempted to figure out, among other ins and outs, whether humans should be allowed to… wait for it… beat their robots?
Will armed combat be overtaken by autonomous machines?
In 2011, a supercomputer, propelled by a complex algorithm, analysed the mood of over 100 million news articles and came back with accurate predictions on subsequent wars in both Egypt and Lybia. In 2007, a South African robotic cannon malfunctioned during a training operation and killed nine soldiers within one-eighth of a second. Autonomous robotics might have the potential to perform gasp-worthy feats, both heroic and heinous, but considering larger slices of US and Chinese defence budgets are being awarded to AI technology that removes man from the equation, shouldn’t we be worried more about the latter?
Watch Sex, War, Robots at SBS On Demand: