Start looking over your shoulder

The scenario depicted in Colin Tudge's analysis of the relationship between humanity and artificial intelligence ("Can humanity stay on top?", 27 March) is much more horrific than he seems to realise: far from marginalising, infantilising or tolerating humanity, the only logical step for our replacement species will be to "exterminate the brutes" as quickly as possible. The first self-replicating artificial intelligence may take a cool look at us - six billion souls in an open boat in the middle of inimical space with limited resources, encouraged to squabble, fight and consume as much as each of us can grab at the expense of the greater good and the future - and perceive us as the greatest danger to its own existence. By some accounts, 40 per cent of all economic activity is to do with warfare, much of the rest is to do with self-destructive activity of one sort or another: while the planet is at the mercy of such creatures, what mercy can we expect from a logical mind?

Chris Knapp

This article first appeared in the 03 April 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Englishness: who cares?