You should know better. When they show futuristic computer interfaces on Hollywood, where "hacking" consists of clicking on a button, you laugh. That's not futuristic -- it's naive, of a bygone era. Yet you accept an equally contextually stripped view of AI.
Back to "hacking": rather than being simplified, computer security is the sum of all past knowledge, plus more. We chuckle at the days when you could sniff a connection and see plain text passwords float by. Now we're doing cryptanalysis and statistical models to predict where heap will be allocated because stacks have caneries. It's *more* complicated, not less.
Back to AI. There's tons of it floating around. Airlines use complex models to price tickets. Netflix and Amazon have complicated "preference engines". The drug industry datamines for drug interactions and compliance. Elevators, rice cookers, and small electric scooters run continuous optimization problems. Sure, it's not Wintermute, but anything resembling Wintermute will have a story that completely includes all of the past, present, and near future developments. It won't exist in a vaccum. I won't be like Terminator, where some guy is working in his beautiful suburban home trying to write an AI. It'll be a complex collusion between math, psychology, anthropology, various industries, and hobby, and it'll be an extremely complex story. And there will be no singularity.
To understand this, you need to stop romanticizing "free will" and "self awareness". A British TV programme comes to mind where ad consultants were hired and subconciously programmed with the ad they were going to made, and they did it. That's not to say that humans are predictable and completely programmable -- they're too complex to be -- but that's exactly the point. AIs of the future will be more complex, but there will be no magical point. Present AIs have shocked and surprised their creators -- GumbyBRAIN comes up with some amazing stuff, and computer generated art and music, and behavior studies, and that one neural net that learned to race cars aggressively all impress the hell out of us and surprise us.
Why do humans have "free will"? Because looking out for our own interests rather than those higher on the pecking order, even if only in fits and bursts and in little rebellions, is beneficial to our own survival and the survival of our race.
Why do humans have "self awareness"? Basically the same reason -- if can't communicate a concept of self and aggressively protect it, our real, actual physical self would easily be lost and we wouldn't have offspring.
Here's another myth: humans have no instinct. Anthropology has a lot to say about that one. Then there's psychology. How many ads have you seen today that use sex to sell something? But it goes much further than that -- what makes us feel safe, happy, anxious, and so on, all have roots in instinct. We are not perfectly self aware, universe aware beings waiting for software worthy of us. We're not that much better than the classification, clustering, optimizing, planning, regressing, associating algorithms we're snidely critiquing -- in performance we are, in design we aren't.
Here's my dystopia for you:
Humans will be slaves to machines, but not in the Google data center sense, where they walk around replacing components, at least not entirely. Instead, computers will have better and better models of us, like Netflix' preference engine, and humans controlling AIs will better able to enslave, manipulate, subdue, and repress populations of humans they've somehow gained governmental, military, or commercial domain over.
Computing will continue to become cheaper. People will do interesting things with it. If I knew what, I'd go do it now rather than blather at you. Tomorrow will be interesting enough that attempts to predict it from today will fail but that won't stop people from trying. We can only predict, from past experience, what won't happen. It's a lot easier to predict that there won't be flying cars in ten years than to predict what *will* happen in ten years.
Our sense of self preservation will send us seeking new lands and computers will help. Our sense of self preservation and our desire to preserve ourselves and form offspring will make any of us who move into computers losers. Read what Freakonomics had to say about the stupidity of powerful leaders *not* using their position for sexual gain -- it's this same misunderstanding that makes us think that if we get something we want (eternal life), we'll give up something else (real children). Yes, we'll move more and more of ourselves into the computer. Our LiveJournal pages will stay up long after we're dead. We'll have chatter bots programmed with our dialogue, and whatever more sophisticated things we come up with, but, even though a computer simulation of ourself might be perfect in every regard, we will reject it as a replacement.
Humans and machines will continue to become closer. I never would have predicted this love affair with cell phones. As machines do more and more useful, interesting, and entertaining things, we'll accept them into more roles. Right now, computers are doing a large part of the work of painting and animating the movies we watch. That thought would be laughable fifty years ago. ClearChannel uses mathematical models to decide how often and when to play stuff -- it's no accident they play that same crappy song five to six times a day. They do that to make you buy the album. Given enough repetition, you *will* go buy the album, for most values of "you". Who would have thought that we'd trust our decision of which music to listen to to some computer program? Dating isn't there yet but it will be, just as soon as I finish applying preference engine logic to the problem -- muahahaha. We can already email matches for a small fee. How long until it's just a phone call through an automated system, right to their phone, as we accept our increasingly computerized, connected state? Just as computers constrain us, they also let us express ourselves. Our own self value has always been driven by other people's value of us; we seek to impress people and to establish value in their eyes. Now we do that with funny animations, captioned cat cartoons, prose...
I think I better go.