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The takeover of the planet by man-made machines is one of the oldest themes of science fiction. But it may come true

By Warwick Collins   December 1997

We are approaching a crossroads in the history of mankind which is likely to transcend in importance any previous event-from the discovery of fire to space travel. Within the lifetimes of many of us, artificial intelligence will become capable of reproducing itself without human intervention. We stand at the edge of an abyss, staring into a future we cannot guess.

The physical components of this phenomenon require no special technical breakthroughs, merely that artificial intelligence continues to expand at its present rate. Within 40 years, computers will control factories which make other computers. A “closed loop” of manufacture will have…

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