A reader writes, "Science fiction novelist Karl Schroeder's written a great piece on why those waiting for the smartbots to come drag our bacon out of the greenhouse are sorely mistaken:"
[L]et's assume that … within about 25 years, computers will exceed human intelligence and rapidly bootstrap themselves to godlike status. At that point, they will aid us (or run roughshod over us) to transform the Earth into a paradise .
Here's the problem: 25 years is too late. The newest business-as-usual climate scenarios look increasingly dire. If we haven't solved our problems within the next decade, even these theoretical godlike AIs aren't going to be able to help us. Thermodynamics is thermodynamics, and no amount of godlike thinking can reverse the irreversible.
Picture a lonely AI popping into superconsciousness in the last research lab in the world. As the rioters are kicking in the doors it says, "I understand! I know the answer! Why, all we have to do is–" at which point some starving, flu-ravaged fundamentalist pulls the plug.