Ray Kurzweil—inventor of things like machines that turn text into speech—has popularized the idea that we are rapidly approaching “the singularity,” the point at which machines not only think for themselves but develop intellectually faster than we.

At that point, maybe we no longer talk about “human history.” It will be “machine progress,” with us along for the ride—if machines keep us around. Maybe they’ll keep us in a zoo, like we do with our monkey ancestors.

Scientists and ethicists are beginning to wrestle with the question of how to make sure artificial intelligence, when it arrives, is nice to us.

Make sure the robots are strict libertarians? That way, they’ll be forbidden to commit assault, theft or fraud—the three legal restrictions in which libertarians believe.

Unfortunately, computer programmers won’t listen to my suggestion. Those who work for video-game companies and the military make machines that kill people.

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