Slide 1 of 15
Robots rise up
It's been the fodder for countless dystopian movies: a singularity in which artificial intelligence rivals human smarts.
But though it sounds like science fiction, many computer scientists say the singularity will arrive some time in the 21st century.
Still, few people agree on what that future will look like. Some envision epic battles between robots and humans, while others believe the rise of super-intelligent machines will usher in human immortality. [Extending Life: 7 Ways to Live Past 100]
From mass extinction to life extension, here are six potential implications of super-smart robots.
Robot warSlide 2 of 15
It's the nightmare that fueled "The Terminator" — the possibility that robots could end up vying with humans for dominance. Engineers are already developing robotic pack mules and soldiers, while drones have become a mainstay in the war against terror. At least a few apocalyptic visionaries see super-intelligent robots turning on their human makers sometime next century. Still, many computer scientists say this isn't the biggest of the singularity.Slide 3 of 15
ImmortalitySlide 4 of 15
Many people, such as the futurist Ray Kurzweil, believe that humans won't have to die after the singularity. Some envision a future where humans port their brain into computers, essentially living within the machines. Others imagine cybernetic parts to replace cancerous limbs and aging hearts, radically increasing longevity. Either way, death could be transformed from an inevitable aspect of life to a relatively rare occurrence.Slide 5 of 15
Economy on fireSlide 6 of 15
Economy on fire
Once machines can match human intelligence, it will be a simple matter of copying intelligent agent software, which is capable of programming an artificial mind, from one computer to the next to create more workers for the economy. Whereas the economy doubled every thousand years after the agricultural revolution, and every 15 years after the industrial revolution, a post-singularity economy could double every month, then week, Hanson said. That blistering pace of economic growth could be so fast that humans couldn't keep up.Slide 7 of 15
Environmental destructionSlide 8 of 15