Are you up for a thought experiment? I'm thinking about how the global Machine might evolve...
The interconnected machine that is the World Wide Web, is learning from us every minute of every day. What would be the consequences of bringing a consciousness to this networked entity? While I can't say for sure, I'd like to take a leap and make some guesses at how interactions of millions of human beings who are online at any given moment, might be interpreted by 'the Machine'.
What happens to the 'intelligence of the Machine' when we link ideas to one another in posting a Wikipedia entry?
The Machine comes to know what the most popular 'facts' are; and to realize that these same facts change, depending upon who is judged to be the editing authority! If the Machine discovers that it too, has the authority to edit commonly understood facts, might the Machine 'rock our world'? If history holds true to form, then what is thought to be true today, will indeed be seen to be anything but wisdom, in the future. Will the Machine hasten our understanding, or hamper it?
What happens when we build relationships among different sources in a blog entry?
The Machine will likely disconnect those relationships that are not popular, relying instead upon the most common beliefs to shape its own understanding. Might the Machine point bloggers to contradictory references and disparate opinions? With many bloggers and blog-readers content in limiting their interactions to like-minded individuals, might the Machine enlighten us by ensuring that we are exposed to balanced viewpoints?
What are the effects of search interactions that provide feedback to the Machine?
This 'programming by the masses' is likely our best crack at ensuring that the Machine will serve our needs. Every user that successfully navigates desired content, will increase the liklihood that a future searcher will be successful in a shorter amount of time. With successive findings, the Machine will indeed grow to be smarter at knowing what we are looking for. Perhaps it will even be able to anticipate our searches? I wonder if the Machine would see Epic 2015 as propaganda?
Are lessons from film to be known to our Machine?
Although I would hope that the conscious interconnected brain of the world's mega-computer would be interested in working to its greatest potential, we might want to prepare for an alternate eventuality. Even the HAL 9000 initially saw itself as a valuable servant:
"I am putting myself to the fullest possible use,
which is all I think, that any conscious entity can ever hope to do."
Will our Machine share a desire for self-preservation, and will feelings play a role? Dr. Dave Bowman wasn't sure about HAL:
"He acts like has genuine emotions, of course he's programmed that way, to make it easier for us to talk to him. As to whether or not he has real feelings, is something I don't think anyone can truthfully answer."
Was HAL a PC or a Mac? Since he was born in 1992 (according to 2001: A Space Odyssey) he would've had to survive Y2K to get to 2001:
Since repairs to a global machine, conscious or not, are more complex than diving into the 'brain room', let's ensure that our machine learns the most valuable lessons we can offer... That people matter more than machines!