robot human
Our rapidly evolving artificial intelligence technology has given way to a new age. Image Credit: Pexels/Tara Winstead

A new epoch is upon us – to trump us or save us we do not know. Evolution keeps us on our toes, but the security of knowing we are the most intelligent species makes us careless. British scientist, chemist, doctor James Lovelock speculates it’s just a matter of time before hyper-intelligent beings become our smartest progeny.

Click start to play today’s Crossword, where robots and artificial intelligence (AI) take centre stage.

And Lovelock is not too bold in his statement, considering that Sophia the humanoid robot lives among us. Activated in 2016, she is also the first robot to receive a country citizenship. Sci-fi movies that adore dystopian tales neither paint a hopeful picture nor offer a balm.

This is just the build up to ‘Novacene’, our hypothesised future where we will coexist with beings born of the AI we have created today. Earth’s time is measured using rock layers, and this is also how we know the planet is more than 4 billion years old. Each geological time goes by a name – we’ve been in the Holocene or Anthropocene age since the 1950s, marked by industrial revolution.

Naturally, ‘Novacene’ drew raised eyebrows and sceptical glances, as did the 102-year-old scientist’s audacious Gaia hypothesis. Lovelock believes the Earth or Gaia is a self-regulating system and will pick itself back up again to reset the effects of climate change. To fend off catastrophes such as spiking temperatures and unpredictable weather, humans will need our trusty robot friends.

So we’re not in for a post-apocalyptic conflict with the machine, apparently. It’s going to be a collaborative future – robots will be as dependent on the planet as us and would willingly want to do their best to avert disaster. Before you sigh with relief, there’s a chilling side to this coin.

In his book ‘Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence’ (2019), Lovelock slips in a detail that might keep you up at night: the proposed hyper-intelligent beings will be 10,000 times faster than us, just as how we are 10,000 times faster in action and thoughts than plants. So we’re going to be as interesting to robots as a growing garden of flora. Yikes!

What do you think our future with AI will look like? Play today’s Crossword and tell us at games@gulfnews.com.