Raise your hands, kids – how many heard the word “extant” before the popular CBS show popped up on your TV screen?
Is it exciting? Is it probing? More to the point – do you know what it MEANS?
EXTANT – (eksʹtant) adj. to stand out or forth, 1) still existing; not extinct; not lost or destroyed; 2) (archaic) standing out; conspicuous. [And now, a thought-provoking Sci-Fi premise.]
There is extant literature for instance – as in the Beowulf epic poem mentioned in last week’s Wordplay about firedrakes (dragons). And, there are extant species …A simplified meaning defines extant as certain species that are near, but not yet, extinct. There is a fine, frightening line between their respective definitions.
CBS has tapped into that fine line. In view of its second season that sets the stage for our next apocalypse show – like we need another – which is the extant? The Humans, the Humanichs (AIs), or the Aliens? Or … all three?
|How smart should they be?|
Technically, the Artificial Intelligence beings (AIs; robots) are likely not, because much as they may “want” to, they’re not capable of sexual reproduction and thus, not a species.
That does not, however, preclude them from mimicking human actions to the extreme – and what do we do besides f*ck? Kill, of course.
Overly violent apocalypse shows and films are the rage. Moral ethics be damned, however, it equals big $$ in Hollywood, which goes to the extreme with storylines that are often obscure at best. Sorry, big guys – throwing in explicit, gratuitous sex does not constitute a story.
Then EXTANT shows up. Why is it more chilling and terrifying than others? Because it brings together a triple threat to humans in a way that is entirely plausible.
By virtue of extant’s definition, the current version of humans is extant. We are not the original homo sapiens but survive as a species. However, how close are we to becoming extinct?
Closer than we want to know.
Why? Because Extraterrestrials may invade Earth and commingle with us, ultimately destroying our species? Because our robot buddies may get too big for their artificial britches?
Even Stephen Hawking is concerned that as we build AIs stronger and smarter, with increased reasoning capabilities, they might reason they don’t need us anymore.
In EXTANT those two threats are creating a perfect storm for possible human annihilation. We might be able to defend against one, but certainly not both. And where does the third threat come in?
It is us.
|Violence should never be the answer.|
We blindly wish and search for Extraterrestrial life, only to greet it with hypocritical and counterproductive destruction. We blindly create some Artificial Intelligence for the wrong reason – war – and we will get what we wish for. But who will be the victor?
In The End, we are our own worst enemy.*
*Unless humans learn to become non-violent, and greet other non-violent species (and each other!) with courteous curiosity and compassion, we will be destroyed by a species that will have no other choice, for their survival.