When Fear Factory wrote Demanufacture and Obsolete, we were writing about a future that we thought was far away, but as computer scientist Ray Kurzweil says, technology advances every year exponentially; it happens faster and faster.
A lot of inventions have been created through science fiction stories, and the scenarios of these stories are coming true. When you write sci fi, you write about what you see already, you see the seeds of it.
When RoboCop, Terminator and Blade Runner came out, machines were already starting to take over in the workplace. Human assembly lines started becoming obsolete with machines taking over menial jobs. Today, we see machines taking over our lives – and we’re letting them. This little thing you hold in your hand is a machine; it’s your brain, it’s an extension of your mind. You’re letting it do things that you don’t let your mind do any more like remembering phone numbers. It writes for you, gives you daily reminders – simple tasks that take away your brain power.
When AI comes and sees the world around it, is it going to conclude, through fact finding and binary code, that humans are in the way? To me, that’s the question: ‘artificial intelligence’ means it’s able to calculate, discern and formulate answers, and will the answer to humanity be, ‘It’s in the way, they’re just viruses, and we know viruses aren’t good’?
There was a story recently in Germany, in a Volkswagen plant, where a machine ‘accidentally’ (a machine doesn’t do anything accidentally – that’s a human error!) crushed a human. The human got in the way. Obviously the machine wasn’t supposed to do that, but it happened. That’s going to start happening more and more. Human error is the cause, and our human error is going to wipe us out – the human error is letting the machines take over our daily lives.
Right now, humans are creating the machines, but we’re going to create machines to create the machines. Then what are we going to be left to do? Are we going to be a leisure planet? I don’t think so.
The biggest concern about AI for me is that we as humans lose our humanity. I don’t mean in an organic sense, I mean humanity as in caring for each other. Because if we don’t care for each other any more, then there’s no sense in living or even existing. This is empathy. Will a machine have empathy? If you create an AI that’s going to think faster and is smarter than any human on Earth, will it have empathy? Will it care for the world around it? That is a philosophical question that we have no answer to. But as humans, that’s what we do have, that’s a true fact of every human on Earth: we care about each other. Most of us care about the world around us, we care about nature, we care about the world we live on. And that is the one thing I am afraid that we’re going to lose.
We’re too far down this rabbit hole to reverse course. People are dependent on it, corporations are dependent on it. They depend on their smartphones, they depend on machines to do work that they have forgotten to do or don’t know how to do or just don’t want to do. There’s apathy and dependency.
A negative outcome is not the only one. Technology is always created to help humanity, so there’s a positive in it, but there’s always a negative side – which industry creates. Money corrupts absolutely, and because of that, there’s going to be a negative aspect to it. It’s going to take some kind of human rise, and an awareness, to create a positive outcome. Unfortunately, it might need to happen after some type of terrible worldwide catastrophe – economic or physical. It could turn out OK. If the rise of the machine is going to be a negative action, then yes, a positive will definitely come out of it, because that’s where the human awareness will come in. For us to survive and not to become extinct and continue to live on this planet, we all have to come together.
Fear Factory’s new album, Genexus, is out now via Nuclear Blast. They will tour the UK in December