Jon Stewart: Computers are going to kill us, right?

In an animated chat with MIT Media Lab's David Rose, the "Daily Show" host wonders about the Internet of Things and whether it's a good thing.

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Laughing with or laughing at? The Daily Show screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

We're all going to die.

The only question remaining is whether it'll be out fault or not.

On "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart worried that all our brains were being directed toward creating things that would destroy our brains. And, therefore, the rest of us.

As David Rose, an instructor at MIT's Media Lab, talked about how apps need to be removed from phones and inserted into everyday objects -- even our own clothes -- Stewart offered this important observation: "It will then be easier for computers to become sentient and turn on us and then kill us."

This is not an original thought. Large minds from Stephen Hawking to Elon Musk have mused that artificial intelligence brings with it terrible dangers to our well-being.

Rose is a frightful enthusiast for what he calls "enchanted objects." This is, indeed, the title of his new book (why else would you go on the "Daily Show" to be mocked?).

Some of the devices he showed, such as a pill bottle attachment that nags you to take your medication, may seem useful, but they behave in an annoying manner.

Still, he took Stewart's poking in good humor, especially when asked whether we were actually becoming entirely subservient to technology.

Rose said: "We all need help."

Yes, we do. Every day and in so many ways. The question there is whether technology is always helpful or whether it's merely a construct to enable its creators to foist their very personal designs on society.

Rose delights in the idea that all his family wears a FitBit so that they can share data on how much they're sleeping and walking and, who knows, sleepwalking.

Some might imagine this would exponentially increase the family's neurosis quotient. Especially since Rose admitted he shares all his health data with everyone on Facebook too.

Worse, what does Dr. Zuckerberg do with all this information? Who would be stunned to learn that he might implant health-based advertising to make Rose even more neurotic?

Rose was charmingly open about his technological optimism -- even his bathroom scale that automatically tweets.

I wonder, though, whether there might be an occasion or two when he sits quietly, his Internet of Things buzzing, squeaking, tweeting and posting all around him, and wonders whether his mind has lost the struggle with matter.

Or, perhaps, with what doesn't really doesn't matter at all.

 

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