I took the kid to watch Disney’s Big Hero 6 thinking I was doing it for her, and ended up having real fun myself too.
It would appear Disney is capable of writing a story for this century, after all. This is good news but I would not spend time reflecting on it.
On the other hand, two things that happen in the movie had my head go: “wait, that’s right!”.
“If you can think it, my robots can make it.”
It’s something the young hero quips quite matter-of-factly while demoing his swarm of microbots early in the movie. And it’s a rather precise depiction of our current condition. We are increasingly able to make whatever we imagine… and increasingly lacking sufficient culture and perspective to imagine something non-trivial.
To employ once with meaning a word that is uselessly adopted in business documents everywhere: what we lack is vision. A shortage I can only define as spectacular.
Attachment figure replicability will be norm
In the inevitable happy ending (it’s a good movie but it’s still Disney) the main character discovers that his robot friend can be replicated. While we have a clear understanding of the psychological dimension of mourning, and the phases through which it evolves, we lack real understanding of the effects of replicability on our culture, our morals, and our selves. Robotic attachment figures, semi-human (aka context-limited) AIs, and quite possibly pet cloning, will be with us far before the Singularity.
During this time our culture will have to develop a sense of identity that can work even when detached from physical sameness.
And then, of course, we will have to cope with the consequences of some “thing” being intelligent.
The future is already here. And we’re not.
Happy 2015, everybody.