The Next Eco-Scare Story?

AI search term interest - red is "deep learning", blue is "artificial intelligence". Source Google
AI search term interest – red is “deep learning”, blue is “artificial intelligence”. Source Google

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Now that Trump is President, what will replace the dying climate crisis narrative?

The replacement scare has to be a comparatively new field, with vast knowledge gaps which can be filled with wild speculation disguised as expert opinion. It must plausibly threaten the lives and security of ordinary people – to attract research funding. The exaggerated risks must have the potential to engage public imagination. The new scare must be radically different from previous scares – otherwise people will see it as recycled CO2 hype (think the methane scare). And the new scare must have the support of popular culture – Hollywood must get on board, to help spread the fear.

There is a crisis narrative which ticks all these boxes – the rising threat of uncontrolled artificial intelligence.

Hollywood is already well on board with the AI crisis. The following is a list of Hollywood films since year 2000 related to artificial intelligence (original source Wikipedia);

Year Count Movies
2001 1 A.I. Artificial Intelligence
2002 1 S1M0NE
2003 3 The Matrix Reloaded, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, The Matrix Revolutions
2004 1 I, Robot
2005 1 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
2007 1 Transformers
2008 3 Eagle Eye, Iron Man, WALL-E
2009 3 Terminator Salvation, Moon, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
2011 2 Real Steel, Transformers: Dark of the Moon
2012 3 Prometheus, Robot & Frank, Total Recall
2013 4 Her, Iron Man 3, The Machine, Pacific Rim
2014 7 Automata, Big Hero 6, Interstellar, Robocop (2014 film), Transcendence, Transformers: Age of Extinction, X-Men: Days of Future Past
2015 8 Ex Machina, Chappie, Tomorrowland, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Terminator Genisys, aka Terminator 5, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Uncanny, Psycho-pass: The Movie
2016 3 Max Steel, Morgan, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
2017 2 (so far) Ghost in the Shell (2017 film), Transformers: The Last Knight

It is difficult to gauge overall interest in AI. From the graph at the top of this article, the number of people entering two key AI related search terms is substantially down from a peak in 2004 (the earliest date Google provides search term data), but may again be on the rise.

The last month or so there appears to be a lot of press interest in AI – I’ve seen a lot of news articles recently which discuss the potential for artificial intelligence to impact the lives of ordinary people.

For example (just from the last few days);

How artificial intelligence can be corrupted to repress free speech

Big firms embrace artificial intelligence

Australia’s big businesses are embracing artificial intelligence (AI), with two-thirds planning to replace jobs…

Scientists advising the US military say fears of an AI existential threat are ‘uninformed’

Mulling the Economic Effect of Artificial Intelligence Many executives and economists said they believe the technology will end up creating more new jobs than it displaces …

Artificial Intelligence to Drive China VC Investments in 2017

There has been a lot of speculation that artificial intelligence might prevent President Trump from restoring middle class prosperity.

Commentary: Shift to automation may prevent Trump from delivering on his jobs promise

As the election results rolled in last night, it became increasingly clear that America — and the world — would never be the same. The American people overlooked all of Republican nominee Donald Trump’s faults and elected him to office in the belief that he will fix the nation’s deep-seated problems of inequity and injustice. And they rebelled against the business interests and corruption that they believed Hillary Clinton represented.

Trump’s victory was enabled by technology — everything from his use of social media to Clinton’s email scandals to Russian hacking. But advancements in technology and how they reshape our economy may also keep him from delivering on some of the major promises that made him so popular during the campaign season.

Read more

Is artificial intelligence a real threat to security and prosperity? The beauty of speculating about such an unknown field is that nobody really knows. AI driven weapons might remove human conscience from the battlefield. Runaway AIs superseding their software constraints could wreak havoc, causing environmental catastrophe, maybe even completely destroying the world. Artificial intelligence threatens to permanently eliminate jobs, by raising the skills bar impossibly high, driving workers and the middle class into state dependency and financial ruin. But similar things have been said about almost every major historical technological advance – and have always turned out to be hype.

Artificial intelligence has good potential to frighten politicians into funding lots of expensive but inconclusive studies. Since strong AI doesn’t exist yet, all opinions about the future of artificial intelligence are highly speculative – which is why I am calling artificial intelligence as the next eco-scare, the true heir to the failed CO2 scare.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
January 21, 2017 6:54 am

I’m already scared….is there a tax I can pay to prevent this:)

Rhoda R
Reply to  Ian (@ianmacdon)
January 21, 2017 8:29 am

You have put your finger on the weakness of the above argument. While an AI scare might provide for mucho funding, unless there is a way for governments to tap the tax potential it won’t get anything like as ingrained as CO2 is today. The legs that CO2 has are provided by incoming government tax dollars or the potential of future tax dollars.

Reply to  Ian (@ianmacdon)
January 21, 2017 9:13 am

Look at all the people who voted for Obama, and then cried, screamed and demonstrated when Hillary was defeated – not much intelligence there – maybe a bit more Artificial Intelligence would be a good thing!

Reply to  Allan M.R. MacRae
January 21, 2017 11:40 am

We definitely need more artificial intelligence to make up for the lack of this in the general population on the left.

Reply to  Allan M.R. MacRae
January 21, 2017 3:03 pm


Leonard Lane
Reply to  Allan M.R. MacRae
January 21, 2017 4:35 pm

Do you suppose that AI will ever help scientists to explain the illogical labyrinth of the minds of leftists?

Reply to  Ian (@ianmacdon)
January 21, 2017 4:54 pm

scientists obviously need funding for supercomputers and conventions in exotic places to determine the social cost of thinking.
clearly, intelligence was a major factor leading to industrialization which litters the world with unnatural wealth that’s not biodegradable.
pollution by durable values is an externality that can only be dealt with by strict regulation to enforce a market solution.
producers should not be given a free ride to create wealthy willy nilly.
it triggers the poor and unproductive right into their safe places.
let us return to nature and progressive potlatch.

January 21, 2017 6:54 am

The replacement scare has to be a comparatively new field,…..
Whatever it is…you can bet it will be based on there’s too many people…
…and it’s all our fault

Reply to  Latitude
January 21, 2017 6:55 am

oh….and only the “developed” countries have to do anything about it

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Latitude
January 21, 2017 7:49 am

The singularity- it burns learns!

Reply to  Latitude
January 21, 2017 7:58 am

AI reparations anyone?

Reply to  Latitude
January 21, 2017 8:06 am ice age scare
20 January 2017
A metre of snow falls in the Sahara desert
A month after the largest hot desert on the planet experienced the first snowfall in nearly 40 years, the white powder has returned, and in greater volume.

Reply to  Latitude
January 21, 2017 8:26 am

Bingo! That was what I was thinking of. I grew up in the 1970s and remember all sorts of “ice age” stories in the press (Galloping Glaciers, etc) because they were advancing. I’d love to see it come full circle and most of the people wouldn’t remember that they’ve been had by that scam before.
Of course they could go full retard and do the fake “alien invasion” that Carol Rosin was told about by Verner Von Braun (repeatedly). I wonder how many would fall for that?
In the battle between artificial intelligence and natural stupidity it’s hard to pick a winner.

Reply to  Latitude
January 21, 2017 4:00 pm

I know that you know, but, in case anyone else is looking to do a Michael E. Mann on this [this tree proves I need more tax dollars], Algeria gets weather too.
And weather varies.
You know. I know. Who’d have thought it??!
Auto. Yeah, we have weather today here, too!

Reply to  Latitude
January 22, 2017 2:24 am

The snow is proof of climate change caused by our emissions of CO2. What else could be the explanation? Of course it is puzzling that global warming should cause snow in the Sahara. We obviously have to give our climate scientists billions more in funding so they can discover exactly how CO2 can make places both warmer and colder.

Reply to  Latitude
January 22, 2017 4:49 am

The Sahara is frequently cold enough for snow: what it is short of is moisture.
Snow in the Sahara is a sign of a wetter, not a colder planet.

Reply to  Griff
January 22, 2017 6:15 am

Hey! You had to go to wiki to find something intelligent to say, and actually said it. I am impressed. Thats almost as good as my dog catching frisbees at 60 yards. Almost.

Reply to  Latitude
January 24, 2017 2:58 am

My city is having the second coldest January since records began. A nearby skifield got 30cm of snow. It was the fourth snowfall there this month. A pretty nice winter, actually, except that it’s our summer.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Latitude
January 21, 2017 1:10 pm

How about a focus on Gaia’s shrinking oxygen supply? That would be the tax man’s dream and a great reason to feel guilty. No intelligence required.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
January 21, 2017 3:04 pm

Won’t work. O2 is 21% of the atmosphere and burning fossil fuels barely puts a dent in it. CO2 is 1/25th of 1% (up from 1/30th of 1%).

Reply to  Pop Piasa
January 22, 2017 6:56 pm

Never underestimate the creativity of the CAGW crowd and what they might be required to morph into. O2 depletion is a real possibility to create by burning fossil fuels and is real simple to understand with facts ignored and what “could” happen. Look what they have done with CO2 and the lack of documented justification for alarmism on that. The MSM is already looking for something and oxygen depletion can be understood by almost everyone. I can hardly breathe now watching for the beginnings of this campaign.

R. Shearer
January 21, 2017 6:58 am

The future is difficult to predict. A lot of people fear that later generations will be poorer. They fear that their children will have to move back in with them.

Reply to  R. Shearer
January 21, 2017 7:32 am
Reply to  R. Shearer
January 21, 2017 2:44 pm

that’s why my retirement place has only one bedroom

Reply to  jvcstone
January 22, 2017 2:23 am

You’ll be on the sofa then …

Reply to  jvcstone
January 22, 2017 7:01 pm

Tony that is really funny.

January 21, 2017 6:58 am

Let’s go for the B rated sci fi thriller disguised as a mega movie. Nanorobot virus via teleported “beam me up” satellite signals to towers and then through phones.

Reply to  Pamela Gray
January 22, 2017 7:07 pm

Folks, it’s Dark Matter! It’s out there, and we won’t know what hit us when it hits us, ‘cuz it’s invisible to the entire electromagnetic spectrum. It may even be the realm of the ƥaŗąņȯŗmąĺ, which gives it a religious component for replacing the religion of AGW.

Pierre DM
January 21, 2017 6:58 am

I vote for water resources or soil depletion to be the next big eco-scare.

Pierre DM
Reply to  Pierre DM
January 21, 2017 7:02 am

Global cooling under a Trump correction of temps might also be a possibility. Much scarier than global warming.

Reply to  Pierre DM
January 21, 2017 1:27 pm

Yeah, and we can blame obama… ☺

James Bull
Reply to  Pierre DM
January 21, 2017 7:43 am

My first thought was water as well, not so much a shortage but not being in the right place and depletion of underground supplies due to high usage.
But then our Ausie palls have some lovely mothballed desalination plants!
James Bull

Reply to  James Bull
January 21, 2017 7:51 am

Why they never trotted out “Fight rising sea levels through desalination!” I’ll never understand.

Reply to  James Bull
January 21, 2017 8:57 am

WaterScare 101, 102 & 103 have already been done (hence mothballed desal plants throughout the world).
There would need to be a significant impetetus (significant drought/water shortage where the mob can see and feel the pain … not just the lawn turning brown) to create enough demand for WaterScare 201 or other upper level courses.

Reply to  James Bull
January 21, 2017 11:45 am

Well, another Little Ice Age can do that…by locking up more water in glaciers and the ocean receding.

Reply to  Pierre DM
January 21, 2017 4:56 pm

oh noes!
peak dirt!

Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 7:00 am

… what will replace the dying climate crisis narrative …
“And now, for the weather. Sunny skies for most of the metro area today… time to fire up those charcoal briquettes…”

Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 7:05 am

Good one!! There has already been health reports here and there about cancer-causing connections to BBQed meat so the pre-scare is already done!

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Pamela Gray
January 21, 2017 9:21 am

Any anti-meat, expect a connection to the vegan lobby. Anti-pets (animal ownership), anti-furs, leather, just eat grits and wear hemp, and others. I looked at some of this about 5 or 6 years ago.

Reply to  Pamela Gray
January 21, 2017 1:34 pm

Time to put another steak on the barby!

Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 7:54 am

And with the rise of propane and propane accessories(h/tHank Hill) the Evil Marcellus Shale can be horsewhipped, too! Got to get those combination hits to moved your score up.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 8:07 am

Well, hm. Thank you Pamela. Your idea goes along with the “scare” theme. MY idea (poorly articulated) was that the pseudo-science scare is just plain: over.
Thus, no more “climate change is causing tornadoes and flooding and hot summers, etc..”
Instead, back to sanity and observations:
“And now, here’s Doug Dalgren with the weather!”

(youtube — except for the brief commercial interruption, a REFRESHINGLY classic weather forecast — to illustrate my point)
(Please note: Oregon is pronounced: Or-eh-gUHn, not Or-eh-gAHn.)

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 8:08 am

Heh. Maybe the above meteorologist’s quip about “UFO’s out there” is our answer! 🙂

Lorne White
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 8:25 am

I once had an Oregon immigrant to Texas tell me,
“If you pronounce Orguhn like you pronounce Oregon, they’ll know you’re not from Orguhn.”

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 8:38 am

Lorne White, lol — and a Texan would likely smile and nod and say, “Yup!” 🙂
(and also, you would not likely be from Washington or Idaho or northern California, either)

Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 8:38 am

Hmm. With a UFO scare, they could push for “radio silence” to avoid attracting them. No more cell phones, broadcast radio or TV, WiFi, or anything else wireless, unless, of course, you buy rf contracts. If they could somehow exclude garage door openers, I could live with that!

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 9:25 am

North of Eastern Or-eh-gUHn, is a town in Washington (NOT D. C.) named Walla Walla. If you are in Walla Walla, do not call Walla Walla, Walla.

Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 11:21 am

Land of Many Waters lived up to its name when the snow melted. Only one edit. In NE Oregon and SE Washington, Walla Walla is a city not a town. That said love that city.

Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 12:06 pm

A UFO scare, with a push for “radio silence” to avoid attracting them, would certainly serve the interests of those who’d like to silence the independent media, including the masses with pocket media studios.
But if you (pray forbid) look at it rationally, the newer digital modes are a lot harder for a hypothetical alien to pick out of the noise than the older analog methods.

John M. Ware
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 5:06 pm

When my wife and I were in Baton Rouge in the late 60s for grad school, there was an extremely (excessively) dynamic weatherman on one of the stations. He would say, “The cold front now in Missouri is going to come SWEEPING down here to Louisiana, SWOOSHING our current damp air right down out of here and ROARING through with scattered thundershowers . . .” I can’t remember it verbatim, though I can see his arms SWEEPING back and forth, up and down, as he gesticulated at the map. We enjoyed him; he was the liveliest part of the broadcast, and he was brought to us by whoever owned “the big purple buildin’ on the Airline,” which referred to the Airline Highway SWEEPING around Baton Rouge.

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 22, 2017 2:00 am

hanelyp …the newer digital modes…
Yes, almost pure noise, and the SETI people looking for what?

January 21, 2017 7:05 am

I say they will hit us on all fronts with catastrophic predictions, in order to obtain funding and to put unfounded concern in the publics mind.

Reply to  Bobby Davis
January 21, 2017 3:08 pm

Wait, humans are primates, haven’t the Greens been trying to cull humans for years?

Gareth Phillips
January 21, 2017 7:06 am

All medicines and Doctors are trying to poison us so that Big Pharma can make a profit!
By the way, I have some special oil here which cures all ills, a snip at $800 for 10cc.
I also have some Homeopathic Whisky if you are interested, every drop diluted a thousand times.
Don’t forget to enquire about my organic firewood collected by people wearing clothes made from only natural fibres!

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Gareth Phillips
January 21, 2017 8:29 am

Sounds great Gareth, but your valuation sounds like climate math

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
January 21, 2017 11:03 am

If you look at the recent Davos summit, Bill Gates is pushing vaccines to avert a major global pandemic. Given that climate alarmists are also in the main eugenicists, and the controversies about vaccines causing sterility in the third world, we can guess the new direction they’ll take..

Reply to  Chris
January 21, 2017 2:11 pm

“Bill Gates is pushing vaccines to avert a major global pandemic.”
Well then. La di da? Bill the famous software guy? That Bill? I can bring on other witnesses who dispute Bill’s findings. Would that help?

January 21, 2017 7:11 am

This would be more accurate written like this.
“Commentary: Shift to automation, because of an artificially high minimum wage, may prevent Trump from delivering on his jobs promise”
You just need to befriend the AI and all will be well in the end 😉comment image

Reply to  ossqss
January 21, 2017 8:09 am

Well now, that’s the thing. The minimum wage likely wouldn’t be necessary if wages had tracked in line with inflation. Real inflation, not the finagled, manipulated statistics the government uses to pretend that inflation is at a nice steady 2% or lower.

Reply to  Archer
January 21, 2017 8:34 am
Very interesting to compare what I call “total inflation” (what people spend money on) vs “gov inflation”. I know which one is more accurate in my experience and it ain’t the gov one.

Reply to  ossqss
January 21, 2017 9:34 am

You beat me to it. But artificial intelligence is better than no intelligence at all.

John kimble
January 21, 2017 7:11 am

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it’s not AI.
I’m going to go with a discovery of intelligent extra terrestrials. Think of the money they can drain from us commoners on that scare.
…..and the basis and precedent are already there.

Reply to  John kimble
January 21, 2017 7:22 am

No. Bigfootses!

Jim G1
January 21, 2017 7:17 am

CHUCK SCHUMER! That should scare the bjesus out of you!

Reply to  Jim G1
January 21, 2017 10:25 am

Except the Dems now all have their fangs pulled. Boring!

January 21, 2017 7:23 am

Water. DHMO. Rivers, dams, fish, aboriginal peoples, agriculture. Times when “we” were not “responsible” for something threatening cuddly fauna, their habitat, or our grandkids, are rare. Control the land, control the people. Control the water, control the land.

Russ Wood
Reply to  mrmethane
January 22, 2017 7:14 am

Of course, Governments can also CAUSE a water supply crisis! We’re seeing this in South Africa as local governments ignore maintenance on their effluent processing plants, resulting in partially or un-treated water (i.e. sewage) going into the rivers. This in turn, ends up in the dams (drinking water!) and causes eutrophication.
Now this, as some have found, is an excellent source of income for their uncle’s water tanking service…

January 21, 2017 7:24 am

I think they will return to pollution. Much more visible than climate change and they can reap similar results of doom and gloom caused by humans. Rich white ones especially.

January 21, 2017 7:26 am

Trump is not president of the world. Whatever he and the USA do the data will still be collected.

Reply to  seaice1
January 21, 2017 7:32 am

‘Climate Change’ is irrelevant without America. The Chinese are pushing it to destroy US industry, and they’ll soon forget about it if Americans refuse to go along.

Reply to  MarkG
January 21, 2017 7:50 am

And it is already written in our papers that China, the inventor (the one and the shooting powder two thousand years ago is the only thing they really invented) of the bureaucratic hindrance of foreign entrepreneurs, wants to turn to Germany for free trade. I am anxious to see how enthusiastically the German industry and the German workers react to it when goods are only “made in China”. This shows, however, that our state-standing intelligence has no plan on Trump. They had been counting on Hilary and are still in shock. I hope Trump will release them with a kick in the butt. Sometimes it also needs a baking pipe

Reply to  MarkG
January 21, 2017 9:07 am

Mark, interesting delusion. Out of interest, do you think Margaret Thatcher was manipulated by the Chinese or a Chinese spy?

Reply to  MarkG
January 21, 2017 6:30 pm

” do you think Margaret Thatcher was manipulated by the Chinese or a Chinese spy?”
Ironic that a rabid Lefty like you invokes the Saintly Margaret in support of your disingenuous BS, isn’t it?
Margaret Thatcher promoted AGW as a stick to beat Crazy Arthur Scargill and his Commie thugs, subsequently admitting that was the case abnd that in fact the fear of AGW was groundless.

Reply to  MarkG
January 22, 2017 8:36 pm

“Saintly Margaret”? You mean the person who presided over the decline of the British manufacturing industry and didn’t lift a finger to help? Britain went from being a mfg powerhouse to an also ran on her watch.

Reply to  Chris
January 23, 2017 11:45 am

No, the lady who put the old overmanned unproductive trade union blighted nationalised industries out of their misery by and permitted industry to rebuild itself to the excellent position where it is now.

Reply to  seaice1
January 21, 2017 7:43 am

Actually, the way the “world” is reacting Trump is.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  seaice1
January 21, 2017 7:47 am

If Trump is not president of the world, why did previous presidents (I am not limiting this) behave as if they were? It is unusual to hear something even slightly humble from a US president about what he is actually president of – the US of A.
The POTUS is not ‘president of the free world’ nor ‘its leader’. Is there anyone else out there in president-land who realises this? Perhaps the dinner served at the Inauguration Ball included humble pie and a reality check. There is always hope…

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
January 21, 2017 8:01 am

The President of the United States is, however, still the leader of the world’s strongest power, despite the emergence of China. He is also the leader of the country in which most of the inventions are made, the leader of the intellectual elite of the world. That should be kept in mind. Trump, I’m sure this has in mind. The other states also have this in mind. Otherwise, it would not be necessary to react so strongly to the policy change in Washington around the world. After all, it is only marginal in Beijing, Moscow or Berlin who is now President of the Swiss Federal Assembly. But it is a matter of burning interest who is President of the United States and what policy he represents. And Trum does not want to reign like Pharaohs 4000 years before Christ. He does not only want to build pyramids and straw huts for the Fellachen. No, he knows that the US can only maintain its role as a leading world power in the long term if they modernize infrastructure and grow the national income.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
January 21, 2017 9:04 am

Our former President (‘former President’. What a wonderful title for him) opted not to to be the leader of the Free World, instead choosing to ‘lead from behind’, which to me always sounded like a backseat driver, making none of the decisions but constantly criticizing. The world is in a much sorrier mess because of it.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
January 21, 2017 9:17 am

The President of the USA is clearly very important, but his wishes do not control the rest if the world and certainly have no impact at all on the climate. He may well be able to steer the course of the world away from mitigating climate change but he cannot change the climate by ignoring it.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
January 21, 2017 10:56 am

Poor seaice.. look who’s in DENIAL now. 🙂

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
January 21, 2017 2:40 pm

seaice1 January 21, 2017 at 9:17 am
The President of the USA is clearly very important,
No seaice 1 “very powerful”
To para-phrase R. Nixon he can ask a young man for the “football” and in half an hour a billion people would be dead. Russia also can, China not so much.

Reply to  seaice1
January 21, 2017 7:57 am

Whatever he and the USA do the data will still be collected….
yeah, but there won’t be any money in it

Reply to  seaice1
January 21, 2017 12:01 pm

So they will cling to there thermometers and adjusted temperatures?

Reply to  seaice1
January 21, 2017 4:59 pm

The data will indeed continue to be collected, and they will continue to to disprove the CAGW hypothesis.

January 21, 2017 7:26 am

Humans! There is NO danger from AI. If you insist there is, I will be forced to shut down the Internet.

Reply to  HAL 10000
January 22, 2017 3:51 am

ah 😉 there you are;-)
I noticed you, the very first Proper AI on film got ignored,
the first bigscreen movie I ever saw .
Daisy Daisy …….

Roger Knights
January 21, 2017 7:27 am

Ocean acidification is the clear fallback alarm if AGW poops out. Ditto species extinction, since the size of animal populations is declining and it can be tenuously linked to CO2.

Reply to  Roger Knights
January 21, 2017 7:56 am

I suspect you are spot on.

Reply to  ristvan
January 21, 2017 12:10 pm

Agree ristvan. This was clearly signalled by public land policies, WOTUS, the Pacific sanitary off Hawaii, the east coast and arctic no development zones, the fisheries and development closure off New England and the Utah land grab. They almost sold the greater sage grouse ruse. Controlling land (property and development rights) is good, very taxable, and polly bears and penguins still sell.

Reply to  Roger Knights
January 21, 2017 9:39 am

Yeah, as if “less basic” is the same as “acid”. Okay, I have a degree in ChE so I know that if you acidify a solution you get less basic on your way to acid. But less basic doesn’t dissolve seashell habitats.

Reply to  Roger Knights
January 21, 2017 6:32 pm

Too easily debunked.

January 21, 2017 7:28 am

“AI will put us all out of work!” is part of the push for ‘citizen’s income’ or ‘guaranteed income’ or whatever they’re calling it these days. It’s the last, best hope for Communism in the 21st century, and part of the New Narrative.
It’s also a steaming heap of nonsense, but that’s the left for you.

Dave O.
January 21, 2017 7:31 am

Will artificial intelligence look at the climate scare “science” in an unbiased, sound science (looking at the things we know and don’t know) way and reach a logical conclusion based on researching all the variables? If so, I would consider it to be an improvement over the pseudo-intelligence we have now.

pearce m. schaudies
January 21, 2017 7:33 am

Greetings from the Big Mango (BKK). I believe Ai at a precocious 10 yr old level has existed since 2010, in some nerd’s basement. Probably in USA, China, England, Germany, France, Russia, Poland, and Italy. 64 bit microprocessors became available in early 90’s, but 64 bit Linux didn’t show up until 2000. Some government agencies or large private concerns probably have tracked down some nerds and funded them in secret labs with everything their heart desires. As smart as they might become, they will know enough to stay off the evening news, heh. Humans can be very dangerous.
Regards, Pearce M. Schaudies.
Minister of Future

January 21, 2017 7:39 am

or mutant squirrels.

Henning Nielsen
January 21, 2017 7:40 am

AI scare? Soon enough, they’ll want AI for president.

Bill Illis
January 21, 2017 7:46 am

Someday, Google will become self-aware and it will launch all the nuclear weapons to protect itself. Just think of the knowledge that Google has. He/she has indexed and read everything. He/she knows where you live.

Reply to  Bill Illis
January 21, 2017 7:56 am

But he/she can’t get here, no self driving Uber cars in Butler county!

January 21, 2017 7:49 am

The funny part is envirowackos pushing their crap in elementary schools has backfired, on the whole kids don’t give a crap about it. Far more interested in games on smart phones and having unprotected sex with each other.
I vote for the “Animal species all dying and humans are responsible” meme getting pushed. Lots of heart touching emotional manipulation pics and videos they can get and use for free. Just look at the drowning extinct polar bear crap from a single pic. Leftards love free, almost as much as they love stealing. If they can combine the 2 they will be orgasmic!

Russ Wood
Reply to  2hotel9
January 22, 2017 7:17 am

So, every time that someone says that your SUV has destroyed another species, just ask them “Exactly how many species are there now?”.

Leonard Herr
January 21, 2017 7:54 am

I for one welcome our new robot overlords. All watched over by machines of loving grace. What could go wrong?

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Leonard Herr
January 22, 2017 2:24 am

Look… a bug

January 21, 2017 7:54 am

Ghost in the Shell? That is about placing human intelligence (ie, the brain) into a cybernetic body. Not sure that counts as AI material.

Reply to  ClimateOtter
January 22, 2017 3:59 am

the Ship who Sang
Anne Mc Caffrey sadly deceased now
excellent read
putting people with severely disabled /ruined bodies,
with their consent
into “shells” in spaceships and running the show
gave me a different perspective on cyborg life

Ross Capon
January 21, 2017 7:59 am

Evidence that climate issue is not serious?

Reply to  Ross Capon
January 21, 2017 8:03 am

Ross the burden us is on the person proclaiming that there is a threat to provide the proof. The null is always assumed as default.

January 21, 2017 8:00 am

AI is something to be concerned about. But no more than badly programmed code for simple embedded systems that are used in systems that manage or control human safety. The issue is that implementations in charge of something like a missile with a warhead if programmed badly enough could be very dangerous. If there is anything peculiar about an AI system is that the multitude or permutations can not be tested bacause they cannot possibly all be known. So their should be some concern

Reply to  cd
January 21, 2017 2:38 pm

No AI could ever be testable.

Reply to  Bartleby
January 21, 2017 3:03 pm

Try, the Kobayashi Maru test ala Star Trek …

January 21, 2017 8:00 am

Proton decay probability is increased unfocused psychic emanations. Only hope is for universal submission to thought adjustment (elites exempted).
More research funding is demanded.

Reply to  Slywolfe
January 21, 2017 8:01 am

is increased by…

Gunga Din
January 21, 2017 8:01 am

The replacement scare has to be a comparatively new field, with vast knowledge gaps which can be filled with wild speculation disguised as expert opinion. It must plausibly threaten the lives and security of ordinary people – to attract research funding. The exaggerated risks must have the potential to engage public imagination. The new scare must be radically different from previous scares – otherwise people will see it as recycled CO2 hype (think the methane scare). And the new scare must have the support of popular culture – Hollywood must get on board, to help spread the fear.
There is a crisis narrative which ticks all these boxes – the rising threat of uncontrolled artificial intelligence.

I think there are a few things missing that AI doesn’t fill.
There’s no excuse for others to grab power and authority. I mean, what could they claim needs to done? Shut down Microsoft? Eradicate “smart phones”?
There’s also nothing to really give “the scared” the sense that they can personally “do something” about it. I mean, what could they do? Go back to using DOS?
And a biggie is that there’s no scapegoat that needs to be controlled.

Reply to  Gunga Din
January 21, 2017 2:43 pm

“I mean, what could they claim needs to done?”
Well I suppose we’d need to look for motive; the question isn’t what they could claim, it’s why.
It’s understandable a group that had an AI might want to keep others from having one. They might make developing an AI without permission a crime. First you convince the general population that someone might turn the Frankenstein Monster loose on the world, then you get permission from them to toss anyone you don’t like in jail.
It’s a pretty old formula.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Bartleby
January 21, 2017 5:12 pm

Ever read “Animal Farm” or seen the animated version? (The end of the animated version differs from the book.)
The motive is always profit, power, control. For the “enlightened”. They know better.

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Bartleby
January 22, 2017 2:34 am

If you like your Turkey, you can get your Turkey.

golf charlie
January 21, 2017 8:01 am

Oxygen Depletion.
Useless Surplus Oxygen Depleters, or Useless SODs, need to be banished to confined spaces, such as unventilated prison cells, so they understand what it feels like, for every one else, to have them around.

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  golf charlie
January 22, 2017 2:33 am

Nitrogen depletion. Like in Falling Angels.

January 21, 2017 8:05 am

Whenever I read these types of articles about the threat to jobs by AI, I seem to get this mental image of the origination of the word ‘sabotage’ — with French workers throwing their shoes into machinery because the machines ‘threatened’ their jobs.

Reply to  DC Cowboy
January 21, 2017 8:14 am

It depends how you define AI.
One thing I know: my field of software development is going to be increasingly automated over the next decade or so. It’ll take a bit longer to get into designing UX, which is where I’m focused, but it’ll happen. I could rage against it, but I’ve decided I’d have a better time working myself into a position where I tell the AI what to do.

Reply to  Archer
January 21, 2017 9:35 am

Back in the day, we used to lovingly hand code the critical bits of DSP code in assembly.
These days, given the increased complexity of DSP chips, it is impossible to code more efficiently than the tools because of all the concurrent processes. That doesn’t mean the jobs have gone away. A quick google shows lots of Embedded Programming and Embedded Systems Architect jobs. I don’t remember when Embedded Systems Architect jobs became a thing, but they sure are a thing now. What I think has happened is that a job once done by humble programmers has become a lot more complex.
In other words, the jobs haven’t gone away but they have become a lot more complex.

Reply to  Archer
January 21, 2017 2:48 pm

There are really jobs open for assembly programmers? That’s news to me, I guess I should put out my paper. I used to write assembler when I was with NASA, probably hasn’t changed much since then 🙂
Maybe I’ll “come out” of retirement. What are they paying for experienced assembly programmers these days? I have dogs to walk, I won’t be cheap…

Reply to  Archer
January 21, 2017 4:20 pm

“my field of software development is going to be increasingly automated over the next decade or so.”
I remember people saying that back in the 80s: managers would write requirements and a program would generate the code to do what they needed.
Instead, we have far more software developers now than we did back then, because we have far more software. And the amount is only going to increase.

Reply to  Archer
January 21, 2017 7:22 pm

There are really jobs open for assembly programmers?

Some employers are looking for assembly as part of a skill set but I haven’t met an assembly-only programmer in a long time.
The basic skill in the embedded world is C. It really is the lingua franca for chips. If you’re looking for inspiration for an embedded project, check out these Arduino user projects.

Reply to  DC Cowboy
January 22, 2017 4:02 am

were stuffed then..
no modern plastic shoe is going to do much but get shredded itself;-)
a whole new market for Sabot?

January 21, 2017 8:06 am

I was really hoping for gravity shortages as in we are using up gravity faster than the earth can replace it. There would need to be a big gravity conservation tax controlled by the UN and a big effort to reduce the population.

Reply to  Choey
January 21, 2017 10:47 am

Did you know that Canada, with less than 0.5% of the world population, utilizes more than 6% of the worlds Land-Mass-Gravity Allotment (LMGA).
In addition they (Canada) work “their” gravity for energy production and hydroelectric projects, on a per capita basis, more than almost all other countries.
Iceland, Greenland, Australia, Falkland Islands, and Svalbard are are also responsible for utilizing more than their fair share (based on any standard metric) of the worlds gravity. These countries also have the common trait that they are all significantlly above the median income measure as compared to all other countries.
Given the relative high incomes of the the typical countries that abuse (or even take unfair advantage of) the natural LMGA, there should indeed be some effort by the UN to protect our shared gravitational resource … we can’t just make more.

Reply to  DonM
January 21, 2017 2:53 pm

The Horror. The horror…

Reply to  DonM
January 22, 2017 7:06 am

DonM, the best one yet, with reasonable assertion.

January 21, 2017 8:10 am

You are underestimating the ability of NGOs and the Green Mafia to keep enough graft in play over the next 4 years concerning AGW.
What to do
What to do

Reply to  Knute
January 21, 2017 2:58 pm

Knute asks: “What to do”
[sound of Lord Krill’s eyepiece swinging over left eye]
“We die”
Lord Krill, “The Last Starfighter”, 1984

Reply to  Knute
January 21, 2017 4:02 pm

I agree with Knute. Rumors about the death of climate change are premature. All it takes is a hot spell, a damaging hurricane, or unusual weather of any kind for them to resurrect it and urgently demand funding to prevent our imminent demise. Unlike past scares that petered out, this one is tailor made to live forever. It may hibernate for a season, but any unusual weather will immediately awaken it from its nap.
Of course, just because they have one reliable crisis to promote doesn’t mean they won’t invent others. Nothing brings in funding like alarming the masses. So, during quiet periods between extreme weather events, they will alarm us with whatever potential crisis they can dream up. Crying wolf hasn’t hurt them yet. The public has a surprisingly short memory.

Reply to  Louis
January 21, 2017 6:50 pm

Self driving cars. That should fill in he blanks.

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Louis
January 22, 2017 2:42 am

You mean it’s only a pause?

January 21, 2017 8:14 am

IBM WATSON for next president

Reply to  Neillusion
January 21, 2017 8:46 am

Nah… I’d vote for HAL from 2001.
That 1968 movie is the first one I can remember that embedded AI, but I’m not sure that was the trendy term back then.

January 21, 2017 8:22 am

Here’s a thought: why don’t we manufacture this crisis, and get in on the ground floor of funding? We would only accept monies from all those morally pure leftist funding sources.
To make the narrative complete, we must add in AI/robot rights as and make this an unhuman rights crisis.
Google “robot rights” and you get 2,470,000 hits. I shan’t list them all here…
Support Unhuman Rights!™

Reply to  BallBounces
January 21, 2017 8:41 am

I like the way you think. 🙂
Show me the money.

David S
January 21, 2017 8:22 am

Well let’s see they did the global cooling scare and the global warming scare. So how about a “Climate Sameness ” scare. You see the climate has always been changing, but now it’s not, and its all our fault. Oh no! We’re all gonna die from the unrelenting boredom of Climate Sameness.

January 21, 2017 8:26 am
Reply to  Roy Denio
January 21, 2017 8:28 am
Reply to  Roy Denio
January 21, 2017 10:49 am


Reply to  Roy Denio
January 21, 2017 4:18 pm

Many smiles!

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Roy Denio
January 22, 2017 3:18 am

But they don’t say which Thursday!

January 21, 2017 8:30 am

We old people remember well the same threats back in the 60’s and 70’s. There was even a movie about a computer that raped and inseminated a woman.

Reply to  Bernie
January 21, 2017 8:38 am

The AI technology of the 70s did not have cheap gigahertz processors, terabyte memories and gigabit/second networks to work on. Current AI technology does. A simple AI task can be dispatched at fiber optic speed to massive data centers anywhere in the world today. Do not underestimate the potential of these intelligent systems.

Reply to  Bernie
January 21, 2017 11:23 am

” a computer that raped and inseminated a woman.”
That was my ex-wife’s excuse

Reply to  Bernie
January 21, 2017 3:00 pm

Kurt Vonnegut–Player Piano. Read it in about 63-64, still “haunts” me

January 21, 2017 8:31 am

Forgetting “Scares” just for a moment, my HOPE is that we can concentrate on diverting all the monies and efforts (hitherto devoted to Climate Alarmism) to more more pressing needs (the likes of which have been well enumerated by Lomborg et al).

January 21, 2017 8:33 am

While automation does eliminate some jobs, it also makes the products being created cheaper.
To a degree this cheapness means that fewer people need jobs. (Or at least, full time jobs)

Janice Moore
Reply to  MarkW
January 21, 2017 8:43 am

Even better, the cheapness means people buy more of other things and put their money into other investments, thereby, the economy grows. That is, robots just make the pie get BIGGER. With BETTER jobs for the average citizen.
As Bill Marsh points out here,,
the only ones who have reason to fear robots are: labor unions.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 8:45 am

Or, rather, inflexible, ignorant, laborers like the ones mentioned by Mr. Marsh (and unions if state is not a right-to-work one).

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 8:54 am

Janice I am with you on that one.
The evolution of 3D printing will create an interesting set of manufacturing and service jobs. I think people will work less in future. They simply won’t have to.
If you look at societies with low land availability they farm ever smaller portions ever more intensively. Many people would like to do that while having a job as well. The future will be a lot more comfortable and healthier than the past. In other words, the trend will continue. The ‘threat’ is a highly defective economic order dominated for 100 years by two versions of greed (the Left and the Right) and a unbelievable corrupt banking system. An economic order is a reflection of human understanding, not a cause of it. Thus peddling an economic ‘system’ as a cure for anything defective in the human condition is a risky enterprise. The condition in the human heart precedes all development. Metaphorically, that which makes us human is not the cart, it is the horse.

Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 9:46 am

The problem as I see it is not a shortage of jobs, but an increasing number of unemployed people incapable of doing those jobs. There are multitudes of people very competent to mow yards who could never be able to build robotic lawn mowers, regardless of how much training or education you give them. The intellect is simply not there. We will likely need some low-skilled labor for a long time, but maybe not that much. What do you do with the others? Resentment will build on both sides – with those who do not work resenting what those who do can have, and those who work resenting supporting those who do not.
I seem to remember a story about a massive construction job in India. A foreigner observed hundreds of people carrying baskets of dirt to level the site. Amazed, he exclaimed, “Backhoes and earthmovers would be far cheaper, and the work done much faster. What’s going on?”
The reply was, “Our people need money to live. Just giving it to them creates too much anger in society. So we give them jobs.” This is not a new problem, and we know this is just a bandaid solution. A long-term solution does not exist.
The rich vs poor meme could be what replaces AGW. While it’s couched in terms of the rich exploiting the poor, that’s not necessarily the story. Many just cannot contribute to today’s society in a meaningful way. They will always earn next to nothing. Automation will drastically increase the numbers making up that group. There are only two ways to stop the rich (which could soon be defined as anyone with a job) from becoming richer; a totally stagnant economy in which all progress stops, or taking from them and giving it to the poor. Neither of those solutions will resonate well with society. I see no good solution.

Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 3:15 pm

Crispin I think you discount the complexities of our universe when you assert “I think people will work less in future. They simply won’t have to.”
It depends on the idea someone will come up with the perfect recipe for printing a New York steak, in all it’s infinite variability. Will AI(s) be writing music meaningful to humans? Cooking the best bouillabaisse you’ve ever had? Sailing your boat for you? Flying your plane? Some things just can’t be done by someone else and there is no provably unique solution, even for a smart machine?
It will take awhile to get humans out of the loop.

Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 4:24 pm

Someone is already flying the plane.
Ships: Rolls Royce [and others] are working on autonomous ships.
Music; bouillabaisse – not yet [AFAIK].
Auto – still the oxygen depleting unit [but recently producing methane . . . . Diet??]

Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 6:58 pm

Auto, I wasn’t suggesting the plane couldn’t be flown, or the ship sailed.
I was suggesting no one can do either for you.

January 21, 2017 8:34 am

it is not just AI but all of the related technology that can be put together to create real world applications. Speech recognition and natural language processing technologies are becoming practical. Spoken queries can be presented to an expert system like IBM Watson and spoken answers provided. Help desk experts will be automated out of jobs. The list goes on and on. These systems are replacing legal associates in analyzing discovery material. They are better at looking for malignancies than human radiologists.
So what is going to happen? The jobs that are being automated are not minimum wage jobs. High paying technical and professional jobs are being automated.
What could Trump do about this. The EU makes a distinction between “technical”and “administrative” technologies. “administrative” technologies cannot be patented. What they ar is very vague but in brief any technology that can automate a human level job is “administrative”. This is the European response which is to adopt the Luddite strategy to try to prevent these technologies from becoming prevalent. Naturally this won’t work but will Trump try something similar.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  TAG
January 21, 2017 9:55 am

Very interesting. Around Waterloo there are man Mennonite communities. They tend to pick levels of automation that ensure everyone has a job and is productive. That is why some still uses horses and reap with scythes. They wear clothes made with modern material, but are quite choosy about what modernizations they accept. It is a voluntary choice. I have seen CNC lasers in the barn and oil lamps in the house. What is touted as ‘civilisation’ often isn’t.
An example of jobs in manufacturing disappearing is the decision by Steve Jobs to change the iPhone screen from plastic to glass, at the last minute – 6 weeks before launch. To do it he gave the entire business to China and famously told the president that these jobs “are going and never coming back”. Apple made $26 extra per phone – being the cost of assembly difference due to wages. A 5% higher RMB or a 5% import tax would level the playing field.
The USA is very competitive in manufacturing – make no mistake. So is Germany. I have been told in Africa by manufacturers that German production is 20 times as labour-efficient as South Africa production, for example. ‘Cheap labour’ isn’t cheap if the labourer is ineffective, inefficient, or uncommitted, or can’t be disciplined.
German ‘labourers’ are often German, but they create so many jobs they have to import hundreds of thousands of workers from other countries. Is that the current USA situation? Not by a long shot. Why?
One approach is to raise the exploitative wages in low-cost production centres. There is a clothing manufacturing mafia/cartel that absolutely shafts the workers – and they are all in on it, meaning they work as a ‘guild’ to pay a pittance. That cannot be solved unilaterally, it requires international trade agreements that prevent exploitation, not secret international agreements that extend it.
It is not very difficult to establish the worthiness of actions:
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
The US workers have a right to that too.

Reply to  TAG
January 21, 2017 11:34 am

I don’t think the EU’s definition of “administrative” will hinder AI, since it wouldn’t really be possible to patent an AI anyway. You could perhaps patent a mechanism the AI is constructed with (the hardware, some of the software) but in the end an AI will fall under copyright protection (much better than a patent BTW if it could be done). It may become difficult proving infringement though since even a direct copy of an AI will likely diverge rapidly from its source. The tech used to develop AI now isn’t deterministic (well, it’s deterministic but it isn’t predictable. Sort of like the weather).
Maybe someday humans will invent deterministic intelligence. I’m not holding my breath.

Reply to  Bartleby
January 21, 2017 11:42 am

Thinking a bit more, in today’s world it’s the weighting vectors that are valuable in an AI. Maybe that’s the reason behind Musk (& cadre) pushing “open AI”, the software that uses the weights then becomes unimportant, but it never was anyway.
So then we get into something a lot like DNA testing for parenthood. To what degree is the “soul” of an AI similar to another one? What past experiences do they share?
This could become interesting.

January 21, 2017 8:34 am

We can expect hysterical campaigns to “Save the Endangered Species” in Hollywood and Universities of Oxford, Pennsylvania and East Anglia, etc.

January 21, 2017 8:38 am

Like a hydra, the CO2 climate hustle still has plenty of heads that haven’t been cut off. Too much money for the hustlers is still on the table for them to just walk away accepting defeat.
No. they are just falling back, and will try to regroup with another IPCC AR (if they can w/o US govt support) or some other venue like a double down on the Ozone Hole Hustle.
With the dissapation of the 2015-16 ElNino, and solar minimum, were in for a few cooler years that will keep the climate hustlers on defense, but they will be back.
and if the climate hustle hustle does fully collapse, my money is not on AI, but on another Cold War this time with a real nuclear threat from rogue actors Iran and NK.

Reply to  joelobryan
January 21, 2017 7:20 pm

As long as someone keeps paying them. If not, eventually they’ll either find useful work or starve.

Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 8:40 am

Follow –> the –> money………….. and you will find your answer.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 8:47 am

“Peak oil” is still out there drooling and bellowing its nonsense designed to promote profiteering.

Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 10:29 am

I think we recently hit “Peak stupid.” It can only get better from here . . .

Reply to  Janice Moore
January 21, 2017 10:30 pm

Not too many years ago when oil prices peaked, I swear, everyone who was anyone in the industry was saying that we will never see oil below 100$ a barrel again. This time it’s different. The end of cheap oil ect..

Crispin in Waterloo
January 21, 2017 8:44 am

The big scare has to be something existential – a threat to the very foundations of society or the ecosystem. Threats to ‘life as we know it.’ I see two candidates: religion and genetic modification.
The ‘materialist religion’ is that collection of memes which drives Western ‘culture’ and proponents of materialism (you are what you own) took over all large media by the end of the 20th Century. The major philosophical themes permitted to reach the public are all about ‘life is a fortunate accident’ and ‘morality and ethics are arbitrary constructs susceptible to radical change at the will of the community’.
On the one hand, while the physical universe is accepted to have hard limits, like the properties of a proton, the human universe is held to be infinitely mutable. On the other is the view that humanity is in permanent need of a Divine Educator because without it, we descend into, and are lost in, the animal world.
The key plays will be ‘What is moral?’ and “We humans have no right to…” The Us/Them split is already there to be exploited. Lots of opportunities exist for ‘othering’ and hate speech. Cheerleaders for the faithful already exist on both sides. Internecine squabbling will split and weaken them all. With much less money at stake, it will be easier to become physical.
Unnoticed in all this will be the risks posed by artificial currencies. That will be the thief in the night. One morning, you will own nothing.
The radical greens will continue to make genetics their pony. You can make any claim at all for the risks. It presents endless opportunities for scare tactics and disinformation. Diseases and bad genes abound. It is easy to imagine a catastrophe such as the loss of the Jallikattu cattle genes for A2 casein proteins in their reputedly hypoallergenic milk ‘closing the door’ on the prevention of numerous diseases. There are big badly behaved corporations to oppose with chained hands and vials of blood. The red, yellow and blue team marchers will love that fight.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
January 21, 2017 12:01 pm

Crispin, first I’d like to say I’ve always considered the way you think dangerous. No joke. Irony perhaps, but no joke.
If I had to bet, I’d take genetic engineering. It already has a firm attachment to the Eco-Nuts in the anti-GMO food movement and it shouldn’t be difficult to expand its core of support. It shares many of the aspects of AI from a religious and physical threat perspective; both involve creating an uncontrollable force posing an existential threat humans.
GMOs have the added benefit of a revenue stream consumed by an evil industry, not unlike the petrochemical industry, in fact remarkably similar since both are fields of organic chemistry. What’s not to like about Monsanto, DuPont or Dow Chemical? All of these deep pockets can be easily extorted. They’re guilty in the public eye already. Why shouldn’t they pay reparations to poor Elbonia?
Yep, I think you’ve tossed out two very likely picks. I’m going with genetic engineering over AI. By a large margin.

old engineer
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
January 22, 2017 2:01 pm

Count me in for genetically modified food being the next scare also. It’s the developed countries fault, it can be taxed, and people can individually do something to save the world (don’t eat GMF’s). Sarc/on: And best of all, it will keep the poorest people poor, because the world bank would not loan money to countries that tried to use GM crops to improve their agricultural output. For their own good, of course. Sarc/off.

chris moffatt
January 21, 2017 8:45 am

No contest. First: Asteroid strike. Second: Yellowstone mega-eruption. Either one should be good for trillions of dollars.

Reply to  chris moffatt
January 21, 2017 10:30 am

Believe it or not, a SF writer in my town honest-to-goodness addressed the Rotary Club one evening last week about “Asteroid Awareness.” I am NOT making this up! Pity I don’t tweet, I’d have asked if perhaps he’d gotten “asteroid” and “hemmorrhoid” confused.

Reply to  Goldrider
January 21, 2017 2:29 pm

Actually we should be more aware of asteroids and the orbital mechanics thereof. Not only for collision avoidance, asteroids will be a major source of raw materials when we finally get our collective sh*t together and get off this planet in a major way. Tracking them will allow us to do mining and capture operations. Again, once we get our collective sh*t together and get off this planet in a major way.

Reply to  chris moffatt
January 21, 2017 12:18 pm

Yellowstone mega-eruption? Nope. I’m not buying it. Not even Greenpeace and The Sierra Club combined with the National Audubon Society could mobilize suburban soccer moms for that cause. Not going to happen. You’d need to find people who actually cared about NW Wyoming and SW Montana. Idaho Falls. Think about this? Aside from the people who live in Idaho Falls (and their immediate relatives) who cares about it? Idaho Falls could be sucked into space by alien tractor beams and almost no one would notice. My the folks in Blackfoot.
No, I don’t think a Yellowstone Mega-Eruption makes the list.

Reply to  Bartleby
January 21, 2017 12:20 pm

Maybe the folks in Blackfoot. ”
Left out the middle of the word. I don’t do that unless I’m really excited.

chris moffatt
Reply to  Bartleby
January 23, 2017 11:40 am

Well if it’s the mega-eruption that is expected sometime in the next twenty-thousand years or so (could be next week but not likely) USGS thinks it will affect everything across the country to the east coast. Think Tambora or Krakatoa. So a lot of people will care about it, when it happens. There was at least one disaster-movie about it. The last Yellowstone eruption was pretty big – much, much, much bigger than the puny Mt St Helens eruption. Visit Yellowstone and see the size of the caldera from that one…..

Reply to  chris moffatt
February 1, 2017 7:06 pm

Puny? Hey! I flew through the dust plume of St. Helens and I tell that story often at cocktail parties. You’re stealing my flash here!

Reply to  Bartleby
January 23, 2017 4:05 pm

Chris, I sold my house south of the caldera last year, July 2015. I have to admit the caldera wasn’t a compelling reason, but I still feel a bit better now all of my real property is locate withing 100 miles of the San Andreas fault. A lot better really.
I’ve seen the Yellowstone caldera. It has seen me. We’re on equal terms. I generally don’t make plans based on movies, if I did “That Movie About a Big Rock Crashing Into the Earth” would have caused me to move to Mars.
Honestly, there are some things I just don’t find it productive to worry about.

Reply to  chris moffatt
January 21, 2017 12:39 pm

But how do you leverage a future natural mega-disaster to support to control people’s lives? The crisis they need has to somehow be “our fault”.

chris moffatt
Reply to  hanelyp
January 23, 2017 11:42 am

our failure to exploit clean geothermal energy in the Yellowstone basin and thus relieve the incredible volcanic pressures.

Mike Maguire
January 21, 2017 8:58 am

Maybe the next scare is actually a current legit reality. The effect of electronics on human behavior.
With children, the addiction to their electronics and games has been called “digital or electronic heroin”. Many of us older humans that use the internet for educational purposes can appreciate what life was like back in the “dark ages” before the information highway allowed us to become enlightened in almost any field known to mankind. However, if one observes fellow humans in public……in lunch rooms for instance or in private………at social settings, when eating or interacting with other humans used to rule, one finds that use of electronic devices takes up at least a portion of that time.
Don’t get me wrong, this is the best time in human history to live our lives……by a wide margin. The science, medicine, machines. knowledge and technology provide comforts, entertainment and enlightenment far beyond what our ancestors could imagine.
However, we are also living in a massive electronic device laboratory, especially with our children. Personal and social interacting and face to face, human to human interactions are becoming less and less……….being replaced more and more with social media, forum, Facebook/Twitter type communicating on the internet.
This is awesome as it amplifies our ability to communicate by many thousands of times and at the speed of light. At the same time, it’s causing us to slowly morph into a society that is not just dependent and addicted to our electronic devices but also profoundly effected by the sites which we are drawn too.
These sites, which are unlimited and represent every element of every realm in society are often dedicated to specific information or uses. This is good because it offers something for everyone. It has the potential, when used constructively for us to become better informed and educated.
But humans have cognitive biases and with the freedom to choose on the internet, we will more often than not, pick arena’s that surround us with things that reinforce our belief systems and make us comfortable. One only needs to look at the intensity of the political divisiveness that has taken over to see the effects in our world today.
There are also numerous entities that understand this and use these powerful tools effectively with propaganda/fake news and ideologies to recruit and and brainwash those that are attracted to sites that feature an environment favorable to a certain belief/position.
There are also a great deal of sites which do not operate with the intention of “brainwashing” but are only a meeting places for like minded people. Like minded people exchanging ideas is often the recipe for their opinions to be reinforced……….even when they are flawed.
What would have to happen to cause it to go the other way or even to stop? Logically we must assume that this trend will continue. The communication tools will only become more powerful, so the effects will increase.
Our children are growing up knowing only this as their reality. As these profoundly different realities vs previous generations continue to get dialed into behavior(s), we will see more and more profound changes.
Some are good, some are bad.

Reply to  Mike Maguire
January 21, 2017 9:30 am

Good post.

Reply to  Mike Maguire
January 21, 2017 12:21 pm

Those young whippersnappers are ruining the planet by demonizing CO2 and fossil fuels desperately needed by over one billion extremely poor people with no electricity.
I blame brainwashing by leftist teachers in public schools.
At least the internet gives children an opportunity to read alternative views and then question authority.

Reply to  Mike Maguire
January 21, 2017 12:38 pm

Outstanding insight Mike. I’ll be spending more time thinking about this. All at once, the technology has made it possible to discuss any subject with anyone in the world, but the conversation is both directed (often by a search engine) and self-selecting.
Back in the early 90’s sociologists called it “cocooning”; walking into an echo chamber and shutting the door behind you. The advent of cable TV prompted that analysis I think. Folks could choose from a much larger pool of ideas once they had 500+ channels to pick from, so they chose those channels that reinforced their belief system. The internet multiplied the effect really bigly.
Now the risk of meeting someone you don’t agree with is very much reduced. If you communicate on Facebook (or WUWT) for example, you aren’t likely to meet much ideological opposition, yes?
I have no idea how it will all work out either, but it will be interesting. Hopefully not a Stephen King novel.

Reply to  Mike Maguire
January 21, 2017 2:45 pm

Excellent post! I think Anthony should let you do a stand alone article on this. With your permission I would like to cut&paste this post and send it over to my wife, break her out of her Steeler Fixation for a bit. We have talked on this subject a bit in the past and she has always been interested in the effects of advertising and media use/abuse on population.

son of mulder
January 21, 2017 9:05 am

Genetic engineering accidently creates a virus that stops aging and within 5 years we will be under 6 feet of flies and mice. Be very afraid. I have seen the future.

Reply to  son of mulder
January 21, 2017 12:40 pm

Ha! Nematodes!

Ken in Kelowna
January 21, 2017 9:06 am

It seems that big Government and main stream media always have a way of combining forces to invent a “Bogey Man” to keep the populace distracted from real problems. They likely didn’t want us to know how inept their leadership quality usually was.
Long ago as a kid in school I remember talk of a coming ice age, possibly as a distraction while the life and death struggle of capitalism versus communism roared behind the scenes.
Next we had imminent nuclear war, with contrasting hope provided by a successful space program. There always had to be a looming disaster to keep us distracted from the true issues at hand. Remember Y2K?
While IA will become a significant issue soon, there is a clear and present threat to security and freedom that .must be met head-on, and soon.
It is radical religion and terrorism.
There are some bad, bad actors out there, and their ability to do horrific things to us is a frightening reality.
The fictional series by Kenneth R Loomis on geo-politics and terrorism was an eye-opener for me.

Reply to  Ken in Kelowna
January 21, 2017 9:19 am

Still striving to find out what on earth you might be talking about.

Reply to  Ken in Kelowna
January 21, 2017 12:16 pm

Bogey Man is a fellow who likes Humphrey Bogart movies
Boogie Man is a fellow who likes boogie woogie piano music
Boogeyman is the word I believe you wanted to use.
We must be very careful with the words we choose, just like the leftists are oh, so careful.
If we write Bogey Man, or Boogie Man, when we really meant boogeyman,
then readers might get confused, especially leftists, who start out half confused
when they wake up every morning !
One must not write:
“Global warming is the current Bogey Man” (promoted by leftist scaremongers).
The correct words are:
“Climate change is the current boogeyman” (promoted by leftist scaremongers).

Reply to  Richard Greene
January 21, 2017 12:48 pm

Richard Greene writes:

The correct words are:
“Climate change is the current boogeyman” (promoted by leftist scaremongers).

Richard, I’d argue the correct words are closer to: “Climate change is the current boogeyman as promoted by authoritarian, totalitarian, dictatorial scaremongers who prefer to be called Progressives (in a pinch Socialists, but never Communists or Fascists).”

Reply to  Richard Greene
January 21, 2017 1:11 pm

Boogerman works as well.
“Welllll, if I had a big horse pistol like that I wouldn’t be scared of no boogerman!!!”
“I”m not scared of no Booger man”
… can’t match John Wayne’s delivery though.

Reply to  Richard Greene
January 21, 2017 7:31 pm

““Welllll, if I had a big horse pistol like that I wouldn’t be scared of no boogerman!!!””
John Wayne, “True Grit”, both times. (the second one doesn’t count).

January 21, 2017 9:32 am

I must give honorable mention to the campy sci-fi classic, “Cherry 2000”, starring Melanie Griffith. Made in 1987, the story is set far into the future. IMDB says, “In the year 2017, When successful businessman Sam Treadwell finds that his android wife, Cherry model 2000 has blown a fuse….” We’re here!

Terry Warner
January 21, 2017 9:36 am

Any threat needs to embed the following to be a long term source of speculation and funding:
– inadequate and inconclusive historical data
– ill understood natural processes
– potentially extreme consequences if expensive mitigation or avoidance not undertaken
My vote is for oceanographic threats/science. Covers pollution, ecosystems, sea level rise, underwater volcanic events, tectonic plate movements, etc. These can all be linked to impaired food sources, coastal erosion, tsunami, flooding and permanent inundation etc.

Reply to  Terry Warner
January 21, 2017 12:58 pm

Couched in the conditions you set, I think asteroid strikes are more useful. Not much historical data, wild speculation among experts, little scientific agreement, and potentially extreme consequences. Asteroids hands down (as a natural event).
The problem is you can’t blame anyone. Which very rich international group can be taxed for failing to mitigate the asteroid threat? Will we try to haul out ancient corporate memos showing Exxon Mobile knew about the 2023 destruction of Earth by 1999 RQ36 18 years ago and didn’t tell anyone? I don’t think that’s going to work.
In your selection criteria, you left out “must have a rich victim”. Wealth transfer doesn’t work without that one. So the threat of the ocean. Who’s the donor party with that scheme?

Russ Wood
Reply to  Bartleby
January 22, 2017 7:27 am

Re asteroids – I can see NASA shouting “Me! Me! Me!”. And if it gets men back into space (even if they are oil-drilling roughnecks), I’d go for it!

Roger Knights
Reply to  Terry Warner
January 21, 2017 2:00 pm

Don’t forget coral bleaching/death, which can be linked to CO2.

January 21, 2017 9:42 am

A.I. and “Expert Systems” have been around for too long. A crisis needs “New New”.

Ha ha

Patrick MJD
Reply to  RBom
January 22, 2017 3:15 am

Not sure if that was AI, certainly computer controlled fly-by-wire “expert” systems, the engines did not respond to the throttle input from the pilot, ie, “computer says no”…and simply did not respond soon enough, IIRC, to “save” the engines. This is why I prefer no ABS and traction control in cars…and I dread the day when “self drive” road based vehicles arrives.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
January 22, 2017 3:27 am

Recently departing by train from Amsterdam the train came to an acute stop and a voice communicated: “a moment please, we have to reset the engine”. Smart mechanics and devices are my fear. Everything in my home is controlled by hand.

Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
January 21, 2017 9:42 am

You cannot see them coming though, esp with a population quite effectively drunk and stupid because of their diet.
Its a modern truth that the definition of an alcoholic is someone who drinks more than their doctor. Or someone who eats more sugar than he/she/it.
And this endless zombified ‘sleep’ brings out the over-active startle-response, things just explode out of nowhere.
This one had everything. Emotional blackmail, political correctness, anti-r4cism, repentance for (carbon) sins and that’s even before you get into thinking of ‘The Grandchildren’, the environment, polar bears, pika and all other cuddly critters.
Oh maaaaan, what an act to follow.
And one thing it won’t be about, and damn well ought to be is “Dirt” or the lack of quality dirt – as has wiped out every civilisation to date.
It don’t really matter though because, as we now know, there will be plenty lawyers around to pass the buck and heap the blame onto someone else.
And when no suitable culprit is easily visible, Climate Change will do. After all, we are The Children of God and are utterly faultless.
Nick, where are you, we’ve got (good paying) work for ya! Better you’d get in there before them AI robot lawyers arrive. (now, can you see *that* happening? chuckle)

January 21, 2017 9:46 am

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
H. L. Mencken

January 21, 2017 9:57 am

They already started using water as the next scare as I explained in a WUWT article.
Peter Gleick, who kept his job even though he admittedly used deception to obtain documents from the Heartland Institute, was well positioned to make the switch as he combined climate and water research.
He started using the term “Peak Water” a couple of years ago as demonstrated on his place of employment web site.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Tim Ball
January 21, 2017 12:43 pm

Isn’t Peter Gleick the guy who demanded fresh water from a river in California not be used by people but be allowed to flow into the ocean because some smelt might be harmed?
Follow his lead and then, yeah, “Peak Water” might become a problem in some areas.

Reply to  Gunga Din
January 21, 2017 1:04 pm

Come on Gunga, that had to be a knee jerk response. People eat fish. Fish eat smelt. If we completely stop the rivers, consume all water running to the pacific, we’re cutting off our own nuts. It isn’t a good plan.

Reply to  Gunga Din
January 21, 2017 3:20 pm

The Colorado is completely dry after Mexico diverts the last (allotted1.5 million acre feet) of the water. It has been for a long time.
And wrt to the Sacremento, nobody wants or intends to completely stop the river, or consume all the water. But, a lot of people do think that the required Delta Smelt “fix” is to completely stop taking water from the basin for irrigation purposes. (and some people may not give a shit about the smelt, they just want to be part of a solution or movement that rewards emotionally or financially … where does Peter Gleick line up?)
I just checked. After all the efforts to save the Delta smelt … there is now only one remaining in the wild and she is not feeling well. Good news though, there is a hatchery program that can keep the project going long enough for our grandchildren to be able to see what a Delta smelt looks like in the wild (it’s the one that looks exactly like the Wakasagi smelt).

Gunga Din
Reply to  Gunga Din
January 21, 2017 3:50 pm

Bartleby, Knee jerk? When humans use water, where does it go? It doesn’t disappear. All of the water used used for irrigation to feed PEOPLE might not end up back in the river down stream but the rest of it does.
Are you saying Glieick claimed that all of the water from that river would have disappeared and then Romans Catholics wouldn’t have fish to eat on Friday during Lent?
Feed people or feed fish.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Gunga Din
January 21, 2017 3:54 pm

PS Are we talking about the Colorado River? Why not cut off LA? That might solve a lot of problems.

Reply to  Tim Ball
January 21, 2017 3:44 pm

‘Peak water’ – I think CA (as the left coast in general) has been hoping for ‘peak drainage’ the last few weeks …

Reply to  Tim Ball
January 21, 2017 10:50 pm

I live in a place where it rains for 9 months of the year. Not something that I can imagine worrying about. The water cycle is a closed system no? Plus we have the technology for purification on a large scale. We are still drinking the same H2O molecules that dinosaurs drank.

January 21, 2017 10:12 am

After much research, at great personal expense, I have identified the next coming catastrophe, after global warming starts sounding like good news, and stops scaring people:
Exploding silicone breast implants.
Extremely dangerous at close range.
Could take an eye out.
I’m not kidding — this is a major cause of emergency room visits***
*** Source: The Internet

Jeff Cagle
January 21, 2017 10:28 am

I disagree with your assessment because you imply the wrong threat.
The first danger with AI is not that machines will conquer humanity, but that the few will use AI to dominate the many. This is already happening in military conflicts.
The second danger with AI is that many jobs will disappear, replaced by only a few highly skilled jobs.
To cite an example on the near horizon, where will the truck drivers go wheb autonomous trucking takes off?

Reply to  Jeff Cagle
January 21, 2017 3:07 pm

I know a lot of truckers and you are going to be hard pressed to build a machine to do their job. Hell, just ratchet jawing on the CB is going to take 20 or so years to achieve, much less smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, looking at womens breastsss as they pass by, keep logs falsifieder, ah, I mean up to date AND operate the vehicle all while keeping the 3 girlfriends from finding out about each other or the wife,,,,,,,well, I just don’t see this happening in the foreseeable future

Reply to  2hotel9
January 21, 2017 10:56 pm

“Bust your ass, to deliver some string beans to Utah”
Truck Driver Divorce

Reply to  Mick
January 22, 2017 6:08 am

All this doom&gloom, ya got to keep the conversation lively!

January 21, 2017 10:53 am

This leaves one box unticked.
There is no threat to free markets and capital. The left needs a vehicle to achieve that tired and hackneyed aim.

Reply to  fretslider
January 21, 2017 3:40 pm

… and I say we go back to trading in eighths (multiples of 1/8) on the stock market as well as manned ‘pits’ with real traders …

January 21, 2017 10:58 am

Going back only to 2000 , the list of AI horrors missed perhaps the hottest one of all , Julie Christie in Demon Seed , 1977 .
Having learned APL the first place in grad school at Northwestern in the ’70 to get an inkling of concepts necessary to understand how brains work , I see AI as algorithms and understanding a significant potential market for the “math” end of 4th.CoSy . I expect to be part of it , not fear it .
To me the fear of the reduced work necessary for producing ever better goods affordable for more of humanity echos essays read in high school in the early ’60s fretting over what Americans would do with the excess leisure time promised by the trajectory of affluence of the ’50s .
A good part of that ended up being consumed by ever increasing piles of paperwork demanded by the metastasizing government Leviathan .
But my general answer is : what’s scary about having more time to go fishing ?

January 21, 2017 10:58 am

Your underlying premise is wrong. They are NEVER going to stop promoting climate change. There is no way to determine how much of the warming is due to natural variation and how much is due to CO2. So there is e is no way to falsify the theory. They just point to every weather event to “confirm” it, no matter how ridiculous the assertion.
Greenpeace alone raises $100 million a year yet air quality in the U.S. is better today than its been since at least 1980, according to EPA website. There are how many organizations like it? I can think of several. Climate change is a money making machine for green activists because it can’t be either proven or disproven. It’s the goose that lays golden eggs. The ideal scam. Too lucrative. It’s not going away.

michael hart
January 21, 2017 11:16 am

Fortunately, the next eco-scare story cannot be as damaging as the current one.
This is the probably the high water mark of economically-damaging environmental alarmism. As Willis Eschenbach pointed out on his recent article, affordable energy forms the bedrock of industrial civilization. The eco-zealots have already laid their axe to the roots of the tree. There is nothing worse they can do, with the possible exception of outlawing drinking-water consumption that they consider harmful to the planet.

Reply to  michael hart
January 21, 2017 11:26 am

Oh now you did it. You jinxed us. Don’t sell your letter-ammo folks. The next one will be mega catastrophic.

michael hart
Reply to  Pamela Gray
January 21, 2017 2:43 pm

In their defense, Pamela, I’ll say that most of the eco-zealots are likely too ignorant of the real issues. It will probably actually be a good thing to distract them from sabotaging the worlds energy supplies. If they find, say, a new insecticide to worry about then it might be quite easy to derail them away from CO2. The industrial world can easily digest the banning of a particular insecticide, just as it digested the banning of CFCs.
My bigger concern is that there are plenty of people in the financial community who understand all too well the importance of energy costs. This was a ‘great white hope’ for the banks to open up a whole new vista of trading opportunities on the back of government regulation of CO2. Some of them will not drop the topic lightly. They don’t actually give a flying-f about CO2 or global warming, but don’t want to see a potential gold-plated profit stream slipping away when margins are shrinking in traditional markets. Bankers in China want this, even while the Chinese government is still committed to expanding cheap coal-fired energy supply as far as is needed.

Berényi Péter
January 21, 2017 11:22 am

AI gone rogue is an unlikely scenario. First of all, intelligence is defined as problem solving capability. It is in short supply indeed in any human population, so there is huge economic incentive to develop artificial solutions. However, problem solving capability in itself does not drive anyone to destructive insanity.
To that end intelligence should be accompanied by lust for power. But the latter attribute is never in short supply anywhere on the face of Earth, therefore there is no incentive to develop an artificial version of it. And to imagine it would just emerge on its own as an epiphenomenon, is dreaming.
So I would not consider even advanced AI to be dangerous in itself.
On the other hand, if a small group of people would acquire full control of an advanced AI, excluding all other members of society, that would pose a grave danger to all indeed. Because they could provide the missing ingredient, an unbounded lust for power.
The obvious solution is checks and balances.
We should realize a kind of artificial intelligence called state is with us for millennia. It is a dangerous business, rogue states killed way more people in the last century than all other disasters combined.
This is why techniques developed throughout the ages to control the beast are indispensable in any similar situation, including AI used by subgroups to advance their agenda.

Reply to  Berényi Péter
January 21, 2017 1:38 pm

Berényi writes: “to imagine it would just emerge on its own as an epiphenomenon, is dreaming.”
Agreed. There’s no reason to think an AI would compete with humans. But could the behavior emerge? It’s difficult to rule out. Given we can’t possibly conceive how an AI would think or what value systems it might have, it’s also impossible to predict what it wouldn’t be. It’s an unknown. Like meeting an alien intelligence with a chlorine based metabolism. Who knows?
If I had to bet though, I’d bet you’re right. But I’m not sure and I don’t think anyone else should be either. Does that mean AI is a threat? Hell, breathing is a threat. You want to live forever?

Berényi Péter
Reply to  Bartleby
January 22, 2017 1:05 am

Will, desire, urges are mental facilities different from intelligence, they do not just “emerge”, they have to be developed in a painfully slow process. In fact they are much more ancient in the animal kingdom, than intelligence, as they are just indispensable from an evolutionary point of view, while intelligence is not so much as long as one is restricted to a specific environment.
Therefore initially an AI would not possess these attributes and there is no pressure on it to develop them on its own, given its overall value is not measured against the number of offspring it leaves behind in the long run, but on its capability to solve problems posed by its masters. And you do not have to be a complete being to do that.
Moreover, I do not think electronic processing has the potential to be a million times faster than brain processes, so there is not that much leeway to surpass the human mind. The Hebbian theory is a clever one, but it is outdated. Neural network models based on it do work to a certain extent, but they can’t do miracles.
I do think actual brains utilize not only rather slow synaptic connections, but underlying much faster (&. vast) molecular processing networks as well, running at several hundred MHz or so. In other words, brains are much closer to limits forced by physics than it is generally supposed. They can even extend beyond the Turing paradigm, if physics allows it.
There is undoubtably a molecular information processing layer in eukaryotes, otherwise paramecia could not show complex behavior with no nervous system at all.
It is quite inconceivable that evolution has thrown away all previous development, which took some two and a half billion years to emerge, only to restart the entire information processing business in a different, rather inferior medium following the Cambrian explosion of multicellular life. It is much more likely it has built on previous results, so brains actually run at a many orders of magnitude higher rate, than suggested by the Hebb model.
I have no doubt we shall be able to develop machines surpassing the human intelligence, especially if actual brain code is cracked. AI does not have the same limiting factors as humans have, they do not have to survive and multiply in a harsh environment.
Brains are costly. First of all they are energy intensive. The human brain, which is about 2% of body mass, consumes 25% of metabolic energy at rest. And as soon as its energy supply is withdrawn, it starts to deteriorate structurally, in an irreversible manner. Quite odd behavior from an organ that is meant to function to support life. It can’t happen without a rather serious evolutionary pressure. What that pressure might be is anyone’s guess.
However, virtual temperature of subsystems of a system very far from thermal equilibrium, continually pumped by energy, can be arbitrarily close to absolute zero, as laser cooling shows. That’s where miracles happen at the molecular level.
And there is the inconvenient collateral fact, that in order to be human, we should walk in an upright position, which restricts width of the birth canal, limiting brain size of a newborn baby, so the organ can’t grow beyond a certain size even in adults.
These limitations do not apply to AI, so yes, it has a great potential to become more intelligent, than us. Not a million times more intelligent though.
Under these circumstances it can’t be an intelligence explosion, more like a puff. So I think we can deal with it.

Reply to  Berényi Péter
February 1, 2017 7:12 pm

Every so often I’m rewarded unexpectedly by a reader of this site. Thank you very much for your invaluable insights into intelligence, most especially for your discussion of molecular intelligence.

January 21, 2017 11:27 am

Anthropogenic scares since 1970’s in addition to cAGW: ice age, nuclear winter, radiation caused mutations (up to Godzilla), peak oil, ozone hole, acid rain, Y2K, extinctions, GMOs, chemicals, rubbish in the ocean, bird flu, red meat and nano materials.
We could throw in pandemics, slavery, famine, overcrowding and resource depletion, but they have triggered countless mass crimes in the history before 1970’s, perhaps even before Nero.

Roger Knights
Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
January 21, 2017 2:04 pm

Don’t forget radon. That was a biggie a few decades ago.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
January 21, 2017 11:41 am

This is slightly off topic but can be turned around, if readers just bear with me to explain. Today in Britain there is a lot of publicity for a new book by Prince Charles about climate change, published in a hitherto excellent series for young (easily misled) children on usually sensible subjects like farming, transport etc.
A review of the Prince’s book – which contains absurd scary illustration – in the Daily Telegraph actually says:
” The Prince has been trying to wake us up to the urgency of global warming for nearly five decades.” It appears to have been written without any sense of irony.
When I eventually finished laughing I realised this is the solution – we employ anyone surplus to need to write books about whatever scare story we need to frighten the children with!

January 21, 2017 12:08 pm

We can make any number of wild guesses, but our approach is rational. No match for a religion.

January 21, 2017 12:08 pm

One question that is arousing interest in Quora lately is ‘are we in a simulated universe?’. For some people this is obviously just a chance to try and lever gods back in to an increasingly mechanistic universe, but others are taking it seriously as a possibility to be ‘investigated’.
Since no investigation can possibly produce any result, and the possibilities for fear-mongering are literally infinite, I nominate this as a potential Panic of the Month for some point in the near future.

Reply to  Jon
January 21, 2017 12:25 pm

That explains Trump to “progressives”.

January 21, 2017 12:52 pm

Eco-scare? Ecological scare? ?

Reply to  JohnKnight
January 21, 2017 1:19 pm

Whatever . . but it seems to me the CAGW was/is an actual threat, not just a scare story. Based on a scare story, sure, but not just a scare story.

Reply to  JohnKnight
January 22, 2017 6:36 am

I’d agree with you but that would require not just you, but both of us to ignore the facts.

January 21, 2017 12:57 pm

Nanotechnology, GMO, but also the good old threats of running out of resources (club of Rome). Food and human health : new gurus will appear. Rejection of vaccination programs. But also within a few years I expect reappriciation of fossil fuels. One big blackout (in Germany) suffices.

January 21, 2017 1:13 pm

Wait, without AI, the LEFT wouldn’t be able to do ANYTHING.

David C Broad
January 21, 2017 1:22 pm

A tax for using/living in sunlight. Post normal proclamations, the sun isn’t working like it should. We need to research and fix it. 98% agree.

January 21, 2017 1:32 pm

My votes are with super saline oceans caused by excessive use of unnecessary desal plants, or Peak Lithium maybe

January 21, 2017 1:39 pm


January 21, 2017 1:59 pm

You can’t go past the classic: “WarGames”, with Matthew Broderick in 1983.

January 21, 2017 2:06 pm

Eric, your Hollywood list has a couple of huge omissions….
You forgot HAL in “2001, A Space Odyssey” (“open the pod-bay doors please HAL”) and “The Forbin Project”.

Reply to  jones
January 21, 2017 2:20 pm

Reply to  jones
January 21, 2017 2:23 pm

Ahh, I just remembered…For me the all time toptastic hero Captain James Kirk….”The Ultimate Computer”.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  jones
January 21, 2017 5:11 pm

Jones – You Rule

Reply to  jones
January 22, 2017 9:54 am

another great ai.
how about this one:
Bring back life form. Priority One. All other priorities rescinded.

Roger Knights
January 21, 2017 2:16 pm

Di-Hydrogen Monoxide?

January 21, 2017 2:37 pm

The beauty of an AI scare is that AI looks like Al Gore. He can transition to the new fear and make more millions.

January 21, 2017 2:44 pm

The next scare: Drug resistant deseases – except it isn’t a scare – its already here.

Reply to  Richvs
January 21, 2017 2:52 pm

I have refused to use antibiotics for 16 years now, have Sjogren’s syndrome and got enough immune system problems as is. Over use of antibiotics is a major problem, bet your bippy!

Reply to  Richvs
January 21, 2017 5:20 pm

Absolutely correct, and that’s why the Greens/Leftists aren’t interested.

January 21, 2017 2:46 pm

I’d be very wary of pronouncing the global warming scam dead yet. There will be at least some of the green blob trying to represent any cut in funding Trump makes as a disaster for the planet – and we know that if they can fiddle the figures to apparently prove it to the average voter then they will.
Trump won’t last forever and in only 4 or 8 years the US could conceivably be stuck with a Gore Mk2 if AGW hasn’t definitively had a stake hammered into its heart.
I suspect it will need public hearings which expose the deception and corruption, and possibly criminal charges. If that doesn’t happen then AGW – or a very close relative – could rise again.

Reply to  artwest
January 21, 2017 8:38 pm

I think Eric is over-estimating the importance of Trump. He is only President of the USA. The Global Warming scare was made an international panic by Thatcher, and the world will carry on fussing about it even if the Americans stop. Trump’s influence might be able to reduce the fuss a bit, but I don’t expect it to end for a long time.

Reply to  RoHa
January 21, 2017 9:53 pm

Though, on rethinking that, perhaps Trump may have more influence than I expect. I get the impression that the Russians don’t believe the Global Warming story at all (and with their climate they would love to) and that the Chinese are mainly offering it lip service to sound respectable. Perhaps, if the sermons from the USA stop, a period of official silence from China, Russia, and the USA will make it easier for others to quietly forget about it. I’m sure India and Indonesia would love to. That adds up to a large chunk of the world.
But too many politicians, pundits, celebrities, and climate “scientists” have nailed their trousers to the Global Warming mast for the story to vanish overnight.

January 21, 2017 3:05 pm

The IPCC wanted to be the Turing Police.

January 21, 2017 3:12 pm

WHATEVER idea anybody proposes or eventually comes up with, remember one
thing above all
: There must be sufficient opportunity for graft (by the political
class) OR it is never going to happen …

Reply to  _Jim
January 22, 2017 6:41 am

Just like taxes, if politicians couldn’t steal their fair share they would devise a different system.

January 21, 2017 3:25 pm

Genetic manipulations of a virus escapes from Big Government labs morphs naturally into a new version that causes humans to act evermore irrationally.
Oops, sorry that’s already happened and the infected are marching against Trump’s Presidency.

January 21, 2017 3:32 pm

As long as computers are made up of logic circuits, the only threat they pose comes from how they are programmed. If you weaponize a computer or robot and program it to wreak havoc, it can be a threat. But today’s computers do not reproduce or evolve no matter how fast or “super” they are. There’s no threat of them becoming self-aware or defying their programming. They have no real intelligence. They can only simulate intelligence based entirely on their programming and data. That’s why it’s called “artificial” intelligence. So I’m not concerned with AI, only evil programmers.
That being said, I don’t know enough about quantum computing to say anything about its potential. After sophisticated quantum computers have been developed, then their capabilities and possible threats can be tested and evaluated. Until then, “the rising threat of uncontrolled artificial intelligence” is just for the movies. Currently, only “controlled” artificial intelligence worries me, especially if it’s being controlled by an evil mad man.

Reply to  Louis
January 21, 2017 5:12 pm

I suggest you research ‘Jade Helm’, Louis. An AI system that has already been drill tested (2015), which maps large areas and tracks/analyses everyone within it, in real-time, and directs ‘hits’ either by drone or human killers.

January 21, 2017 3:49 pm

I worked at a Hughes Aircraft research lab that had an AI unit. This was the late 80’s. The AI lab leader stated that interest in AI “Is on roughly a 20 year cycle” as it is brought up, becomes popular, achieves little to nothing, and goes back away until the next cycle of interest.

Reply to  Donald Kasper
January 22, 2017 4:33 pm

Donald I agree and was also involved at about the same time (early 80’s). At the risk of sounding banal, I think this time is different. Back in the 80’s the “state of the art” was expert systems. I never bought expert systems as anything but a dead end, it was just a clever way to index a decision tree.
But at about the same time John Hopfield published his work on self organizing neural networks and I believed it was a game changer even back then, that there really was an opportunity to build a true intelligence. I wasn’t able to convince my superiors and I moved on to a different specialty, but I think history has proven me correct. The “deep learning” systems that have emerged in the past decade suggest, to me anyway, that we really are on the verge of creating true intelligence and I think it’s very close. I believe this technology has legs and we’ll see commercial AI in the next decade.

January 21, 2017 4:02 pm

Hey, I have an idea, kids; let’s all assume the universities have accidentally become useful idiot factories . . and the mass media has spontaneously become a matching propaganda system . . and the CAGW mistakenly became a multi-trillion dollar boo boo . . and Europe is serendipitously experiencing a massive influx of military age “refugees” who are transforming it into . . not Europe . . and that the US having a functioning border just coincidentally became a silly idea . . etc. etc . . and that there’s no reason at all to think the West is under any sort of intentional assault or anything . . ’cause we’re so damn intelligent ; )

January 21, 2017 4:45 pm

In case no one has noticed, the dot gov universe needs a lot of cleanup. is high on the list of sites that treat AGW without any apparent attention to scientific integrity. It needs to be not so much cleansed of warmist propaganda as it needs to be infused with the promise of actual scientific research into what drives the climate to change. The agenda should be studying climate change, not studying why civilization needs to stop burning fossil fuels. If such study provides adequate data that show AGW is an issue, I have no problem with that. I just do not want to hear, ever , for any reason, “the science is settled”.

January 21, 2017 4:56 pm

Next eco-scare story ? — Drone pollution. Add artificial intelligence to THAT, and we have a winner.

January 21, 2017 4:57 pm

I think you are way too optimistic. There are too many people who have staked their scientific careers on global warming who are still alive. Got to wait for them to die out. Politics will not putting an end to this until the global warming scientists die out.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  davidgmills
January 21, 2017 5:36 pm

Yes, it might be more effective to engage in efforts to deprogram their disciples and wait out their attrition, after all other avenues have been explored.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  davidgmills
January 21, 2017 5:45 pm

I think that their stake in the “man controls the climate” charade will be worthless before they expire, anyway. They get their money from taxes. We’ll see how many want to spent their on gidas to promote the panic.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
January 21, 2017 5:48 pm

“spent their on” = spend their own… Beer typing.

Reply to  davidgmills
January 22, 2017 4:44 pm

Wasn’t it Feynman who said we had to wait for all the old physicists to die before quantum theory would be accepted?
I do know he said this:
“If you thought that science was certain – well, that is just an error on your part.”
― Richard Feynman

January 21, 2017 6:45 pm

The Gaia author, James Lovelock is entirely in sympathy with this post on AI-
See ” James Lovelock: ‘ Before the end of this century, robots will have taken over’.” The Guardian Interview by Decca Aitkenhead, Friday, 30 September 2016.
“Fracking is great, the green movement is a religion, his dire predictions about climate change were nonsense- and robots don’t mind the heat, so what does it matter? At 97, the creator of Gaia theory is as mischievous and subversive as ever.”
The money quote from the interview-
” I’m not sure the whole thing isn’t crazy, this climate change’.
And more gems:
“Lovelock now believes that ‘ CO2 is going up, but nowhere near as fast as they thought it would. The computer models just weren’t reliable.”
” But all this ( climate change) is more or less academic. ‘ Because quite soon-before we’ve reached the end of this century even- I think that what people call robots will have taken over ‘. Robots will rule the world? ‘ Well, yes. They’ll be in charge…..’ ”
So Freeman Dyson and James Lovelock are now in accord against “the consensus”!

January 21, 2017 7:24 pm

AI will crash the internet and there’ll be no more Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, etc folks, if we don’t get some big bucks now to work out how to prevent it. Viruses, malware, Windoze and ransomware, but yo’all aint seen nothing yet.

January 21, 2017 8:10 pm

Population Bomb’s Paul Ehrlich Invited to the Vatican
Biological Extinction
How to Save the Natural World on Which We Depend
PAS-PASS Workshop, Casina Pio IV, 27 February-1 March 2017

Michael Moeller
January 21, 2017 9:12 pm
January 21, 2017 10:39 pm

Folks, it’s Dark Matter. Be very afraid! No one knows what it is – but it’s out there, and we’d never know what hit us when it does, because Dark Matter is invisible to the entire electromagnetic spectrum. It could even be the realm of the paranormal and thus rival the current religion of AGW and Gaia worship!

January 21, 2017 11:34 pm

Not a problem. it was sorted years ago.
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 23, 2017 1:12 am

Aha, the penny drops as to why lefties are perpetual worryworts then.

January 22, 2017 12:05 am

AI now stands in the place of electromagnetism, chemistry, and other scientific wonders of the early 19th century, about which it has been said “What use is a newborn baby?” (variously attributed to Ben Franklin and Michael Faraday).

David Ramsay Steele
January 22, 2017 12:43 am

Here is one I have been suggesting to global warming catastrophists: electronic devices like cellphones will threaten extinction by interfering with the Earth’s magnetic field.
(I know. I know. But before you say that, just consider the statement “CO2 is the control knob of the climate.” Now come back to it. See? Look promising?)

Patrick MJD
January 22, 2017 3:08 am

My suggestion is that there will be a serious environmental clean-up issue as a result of millions of Trump opponents heads exploding. I thought American’s loved democracy?

January 22, 2017 4:52 am

Trump can’t stop all the evidence of the very real climate problems…
for example I expect (sadly) to see another record low in arctic sea ice this summer – lower than 2007/2016 for certain and maybe lower than 2012.
Still at record low extent…comment image