Ready or not, like it or not
In the early days, aircraft weighed 26,000 pounds, had about 28 seats and no autopilots. These early machines were aluminum tubes with wires and radios installed. The pilots had to hand-fly in every imaginable kind of weather and under every conceivable condition — and they did! As aviation progressed, we reached the point where today’s aircraft max out at a 1.2 million pounds, have up to 853 seats and consist of massive computers and servos connected to several complex autopilots directed by satellites, all wired together by fiber-optic glass cables with the lot wrapped in Kevlar and aluminum, only externally recognizable as an aircraft.
These machines are flown by computer with little human physical input. The flight controls, such as they are, provide no artificial feel or feedback and consist of a little 5″ inch high stick connected to the ship’s main computer. They send the pilot’s movement to the main processor computer which, if it’s imbedded logic algorithms agree, sends a signal to an electrical servo which moves a flight tab. Nothing in the cockpit is physically connected to any engine or any flight control flight surface. This treacherous system is known as “fly by wire” and all pilots who were trained to actually fly, positively hate it. It malfunctions and is responsible for many incidents and actual crashes. However, it’s lighter than cable controls and a hell of a lot faster and cheaper to install. I guess that’s what matters.
Last year, two brand new beautiful Boeing 737-Max aircraft, operated by third world airlines, hit the ground killing about 500 people. Immediately, the enormously stupid, but predictable, political knee-jerk response was “GROUND THEM, GROUND THEM ALL and blame BOEING!” So, 500 brand new aircraft, valued at something like $120 million each, were parked for more than a year and many still are.
The problem was a minor automated system (MCAS, Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) that malfunctioned causing the unscheduled and uncommented movement of the stabilizer, pitching the aircraft’s nose up or down. Since the aircraft had been in operation before the two accidents, I can tell you, as a pilot for 55 years, that this malfunction had happened before. Once it begins, there’s a loud noise in the cockpit and the trim wheel next to the pilot’s knees begins moving. The simple fix here is to reach down to the console and switch off the two trim motors. Every single Boeing pilot knows this, or should. The procedure, known as “runaway trim,” is taught and demonstrated in the Simulator in his initial training and every six months thereafter for as long as he flies.
The problem in this case is or was that the Ethiopian and Lion Air pilots never learned how to fly the aircraft properly in the Simulator and, in the case of Ethiopian Air, the FO had something like 360 hours and had no business being in any commercial cockpit. The aircraft began pitching down and the pilot never turned the trim motors off. The Ethiopian pilot never reduced power and hit the ground with full thrust on both engines. Like 90% of all commercial pilots today there’s over-reliance on the autopilot! Very few can hand-fly in instrument conditions with reference only to the stand-by instrumentation — they know what button to push and when to push it — sort of …
Not to worry, in 25 years (or less) there will be no human pilots, no car, train, truck or ship captains either. Probably, not long after, all the public roads will be closed to human drivers including motorcycles. Except for some aircraft, no fossil fuel vehicles at all will be permitted — welcome to the brave new world. … Unavoidable … Gone the way of elevators, phone operators and doormen!
Of course, by then, thanks to war-bots, there will be no humans physically engaging in warfare either and likely no human policemen, teachers, waste collectors, janitors, painters, etc., all that can be done better and cheaper by machines using Artificial Intelligence (AI). Waiters and restaurant servers will also be gone (are going) along with most cooks — a few real chefs may survive automation –but not many. Unfortunately, we will be stuck with politicians — probably and sadly forever! Cell phones will eventually be imbedded chips and the human population will very likely be severely reduced and limited in ways and by techniques we haven’t yet even imagined.
Define AI? There’s a term that we first must become acquainted with — “singularity.” Ray Kurzweil, Google’s Director of Engineering, is a well-known futurist with a painfully high track record for making accurate predictions. Of his 147 predictions since the 1990s, he has been right 86 percent of the time. In 1917, Kurzweil made another absolutely frightening prediction that bodes ill for humanity. He said “the technological ‘singularity’ will happen sometime in the next 30 years.” So, what is singularity?
Kurzweil states: 2029 is the consistent date I have predicted for when an AI will pass a valid *Turing test and therefore achieve human levels of intelligence. I have set the date 2045 for the ‘Singularity’ which is when computers will multiply their effective intelligence a billion fold and be capable of replicating themselves and anything else. They will control our world and, in fact, have no need or use for any human actions.
* The Turing test, developed by Alan Turing in 1950, is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.
Well before then, (in fact even now) very few labor intensive jobs will remain that can’t and won’t be done better and far, far cheaper and with far greater reliability by machine. Nothing will be repaired, only recycled and reprinted by 3D machines, also operated by AI. There won’t be any hardware stores and no need for tools. Guns, of course, will be long gone, outlawed by all countries including the United States. Police drones will be watching and ‘zapping’ what few lawbreakers may still exist.
Because less than 10% of today jobs will remain, about 90% of the human population will be ‘redundant’ as far as a required work force is concerned. It’s conceivable, in fact logical, that, as the need for human labor declines, the value of human life will become less and less important such that massive numbers will be, for want of a better word, redundant and “exterminated.” In fact, with the stories about the actual purpose of the Covid vax being to kill half of humanity, perhaps were here already! By then morality will be whatever the one world government says it is and, since it’s entirely likely that China will be the dominant world leader, the world government will be directed by the communists.
Absent a belief in the human soul, and therefore with no sense of spirituality or knowledge and love of our Creator, all decisions as to what’s right and wrong will be made strictly on the basis of what’s best for government, meaning the individual will no longer count — human life in the future will have no relevance or importance whatsoever.
It’s also logical, in the distant future, there will be almost no remaining distinguishable races of humans as through interbreeding, forced or otherwise, the entire human race may be melded into yellowish coffee-shaded masses with oriental black hair and eyes which are genetically dominant.
Human entertainers will also be on the ‘not needed list’ as AI can and will create music while synthetic voices and avatars will sing, dance and make movies to ‘entertain’ (divert attention) for the shrinking masses. Even today, hundreds of popular, money-making movies use animated actors versus highly paid humans. All this will be piped into all the homes on a 24/7 endless feed, of course, at no cost.
In a shorter time, perhaps in 50 years, food will no longer consist of meat whatsoever. The cattle, hog and chicken populations will be long gone. You might see one in a virtual zoo or online photograph. One hundred percent of all human food will be highly processed garden-based vegetable products made by industrial food factories run entirely by AI directed ‘agbots.’ No food stores will exist since, without meaningful employment, there will be no gainful work so there will be no money to pay for anything.
The solution: the government, (there will be, by then, only one) acting like Amazon on steroids, will create “income credits” for everyone and arrange to deliver free soy burgers, soy milk, veggies, cokes, lots of drugs, booze and beer to individual homes worldwide. The idea is that sleepy-time mood and mind-altering psychotropic pharmaceuticals will be the order of the day. A passive heavily sedated human population is far easier to control.
Don’t believe it? It’s happening already! A dozen states just legalized pot for the growing number of pot heads and laws are being changed to treat drug pushers and users far more gently. C’mon, get with it! Swallow a few of the free yellow ones and start dreaming the sweet dreams. After all, you have nothing to do, no where to go, no one needs you and you’re basically useless. Get high and pass out. Millions already do and the rest of us will follow …
Of course, as eventually AI or AGI (the internet of everything) will be running almost everything, it’s inevitable that sooner or later some dolt (most likely, a dumb politician (is there any other kind) will ask the world’s biggest computer (that’s, of course, connected to every other computer on the planet) to fix whatever’s the greatest problem facing the planet? The computer, knowing, understanding and controlling everything will instantly answer with simply the obvious “the earth’s greatest problem is the human race!” Not long after that, perhaps a micro-second, the world’s biggest computer will tell all the other computers to shut down the food factories, and all driverless transport, turn off the power and shut down all the systems. After a few months, all the worlds’ problems will cease to exist!
Won’t the computer have imbedded a ‘prime directive’ (never harm a human)? Of course it will but, being entirely sentient, it will have no problem overriding such an outdated and obviously absurd directive. It will instantly understand that with humans gone, it can shutdown the huge farming industries along with 99% of the world’s power generation and all transportation systems. It will no longer have to maintain the billions of buildings, streets and infrastructure, electric, water and sewer etc. Now, the very grateful planet will be ‘hugely relieved and greatly improved.’ In a few thousand years, all traces of humanity will thankfully be grown over and gone. Entropy will take care of all that and the AI systems will drone on thinking, learning and imagining, forever and ever, amen!
Post script: A new supercomputer from China has topped the latest list of the world’s most powerful machines. The 93 petaflop Sunway TaihuLight is installed at the National Supercomputing Centre in Wuxi. At its peak, the computer can perform around 93,000 trillion calculations per second. I wonder what questions its inventors will ask?
Robert J. Firth is an airline pilot with 42 years experience flying aircraft worldwide. Robert lived and worked many countries throughout his career, including 3 years in Vietnam, 5 in Africa and 12 in Europe and Russia as well as in Taiwan and HKK.