Tesla, a pioneer of technology and of the use of electricity, wrote over 120 years ago some eerily accurate predictions about the emergence of a machine with its "own mind." (Related: Entrepreneur Ian Hogarth warns reckless development of AI could lead to the destruction of humanity.)
"I purpose to show that, however impossible it may now seem, an automaton may be contrived which will have its 'own mind,'" wrote Tesla in an essay titled "The Problem of Increasing Human Energy" in the now-defunct monthly magazine, The Century Magazine, in its June 1900 edition.
"And by this I mean that it will be able, independent of any operator, left entirely to itself, to perform, in response to external influences affecting its sensitive organs, a great variety of acts and operations as if it had intelligence," continued Tesla.
"It will be able to follow a course laid out or to obey orders given far in advance; it will be capable of distinguishing between what it ought and what it ought not to do, and of making experiences or, otherwise stated, of recording impressions which will definitely affect its subsequent actions."
For years before and after this essay, Tesla had been thinking of AI. In one letter to a professor at Purdue University written in the 1890s, Tesla explained how, in his experiments with radio-controlled technology, he was also thinking about future inventions involving "machines possessed of their own intelligence." Although he believed that he himself would be the inventor of such a machine.
"Since that time I had advanced greatly in the evolution of the invention and think that the time is not distant when I shall show an automaton which, left to itself, will act as though possessed of reason and without any willful control from the outside," wrote Tesla.
This statement cuts very close to the world's general understanding of AI as non-living beings that are able to simulate human intelligence and can carry out various tasks, either on their own or based on prompts by humans.
"Whatever be the practical possibilities of such an achievement, it will mark the beginning of a new epoch in mechanics," wrote Tesla.
Tesla, born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1856 and moved to the United States in his late 20s, is famed for inventions like the Tesla coil, hydroelectric power and his work on developing a radio. He is also known for predicting a variety of modern inventions, like the creation of unmanned vehicles, wireless technology and even modern-day cell phones, which he referred to as "vest-pocket" technology.
His resurfaced prediction about "automatons" act as a surprisingly prescient forecast of the development of AI. James Sikorski, a member of the History and Collections Committee at the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Long Island, New York, noted that Tesla previously described AI, to which he gave the name "teleautomaton," as having a "borrowed mind."
"This perhaps better illustrates the potential benefits, yet dangers, of unrestricted AI – for where the mind is 'borrowed' from could make all the difference since it will be built upon the work of human beings who may be unable to contain their inherent flaws or biases," said Sikorski in an interview with Fox News Digital. "Tesla did foresee an age of machines thinking independently of humans."
Learn more about the rise of artificial intelligence tech at Robotics.news.
Watch this special video report from Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, about how AI being built by leftists will be used to annihilate the human race.