Science mag warns: 'Could the Net become self-aware?'

It sounds like an Astroturf campaign for the upcoming computers-gone-bad movie "Terminator: Salvation," but in fact New Scientist magazine is being completely serious when it asks if the Internet itself could soon become "self-aware."

"Excuse me, is Sarah Conner home?"

It sounds like an Astroturf campaign for the upcoming computers-gone-bad movie "Terminator: Salvation," but in fact New Scientist magazine is being completely serious when it asks if the Internet itself could soon become "self-aware." The article explains:

In engineering terms, it is easy to see qualitative similarities between the human brain and the Internet's complex network of nodes, as they both hold, process, recall, and transmit information.

Fortunately for anyone worrying about how to best serve our new robot overlords, the article points out that even if this does come to pass, it won't, "necessarily have the same kind of consciousness as humans," because consciousness can be described as, "a system of mechanisms for making information processing more efficient by adding a level of control over which of the brain's processes get the most resources."

Quoted is University of Brussels researcher Francis Heylighen, who says, somewhat ominously, "We probably would not notice a whole lot of a difference, initially," and adds that the principal task a self-aware network would undertake would be to identify where it has knowledge gaps and discover how to fill them.

Until it figures out how to send a killer robot back in time, that is.

(Via io9.com)

About the author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.

 

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