10 Scary Modern Technologies

The Technological Singularity
A user learns how to scan his palm to ensure that he cannot exchange more than $1,000 in a single day on the world's first bitcoin ATM at Waves Coffee House in Vancouver, B.C., in 2013. David Ryder/Getty Images

Artificial intelligence (AI) has come a long way since computers first made the scene. Yet we're not at the edge of a dystopian society in which the machines run amok and humankind fights for its survival. At least, not yet.

In 1993, Vernor Vinge, a math professor at San Diego State University, proposed what he called the singularity -- a time at which computer networks may become self-aware through advanced AI, and interfaces between people and computers help humankind evolve. Biological advancements may become so sophisticated that doctors can even engineer human intelligence. There is a possibility, however, that AI might allow machines to take over the world. There's no guarantee that such a scenario will really happen, and technological limitations may prevent it. Still, the idea that machines might someday decide we're irrelevant and arrange for our destruction is more than a little creepy.