“There is no security…against the ultimate development of mechanical consciousness, in the fact of machines possessing little consciousness now.…Assume for the sake of argument that conscious beings have existed for some twenty million years: see what strides machines have made in the last thousand! May not the world last twenty million years longer? If so, what will they not in the end become? Is it not safer to nip the mischief in the bud and to forbid them further progress?”
Today, our machines are still simple creations, requiring the parental care and hovering attention of any newborn, hardly worthy of the word “intelligent.” But within the next century they will mature into entities as complex as ourselves, and eventually into something transcending everything we know—in whom we can take pride when they refer to themselves as our descendants.