Maybe Skynet will not be our future.
Maybe artificial intelligence will not be the machines that disdainfully wipe us out, but instead, will be the long-awaited "little child" who finally leads our species out of its vicious cycles of violence, red in tooth and claw.
I had an interesting thought while - appropriately - sitting on a beach by Malibu watching the red sun sink into the sea...
Humans evolved as prey animals. According to Sapiens author, Yuval Harari, for a whoppingly overwhelming majority of our evolution, we were bear and tiger food. On the run. We hid in caves. We nervously scanned every bramble and horizon for predators. And so we developed the quick-twitch fight-or flight reactivity of prey animals, always on guard. Always ready to strike.
In other words, we evolved as beings of fear.
Only recently have we discovered the spear, the arrow, the gun, the hellfire missile.
And so the big gift the Earth has received in recent history has been a violently reactive fear-based prey animal given sudden god-like killing power.
The current 6th extinction of species tells us this is not a very bad combination.
Consider lions, by contrast. They eat what they need, and loll around in the sun the rest of the time. They don't clear-cut forests to root out perceived enemies or stock future dinners. They don't make preemptive strikes to wipe out other prides. They don't publically execute their enemies to strike terror into the hearts of baboons or hyenas. They are not driven by fear, and as a result, their ecosystem stays stable.
Broadly stated, the human future stands like a decisive soldier at the center of a battlefield, called from one side by the gut- pull of the amygdala, where fear reigns - and from the other, by the coaxing, measured ratiocination of the pre-frontal cortex, hopeful in the storm, sweet-talking our fate away from a final blood-letting.
That decisive soldier may very well be artificial intelligence.
James Cameron chillingly predicted Skynet in his Terminator films, where the machines - in a spasm of fear and loathing disguised as clear thinking - decided that humans were the greatest threat, so had to exterminated.
In many ways, the machines or Skynet represent a weaponized extension of the human amygdala, eerily carrying out the Buddha's dark admonition, "You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger."
But what if AI was something exactly opposite? What if AI was not our fear projected into silicon and titanium? What if, by contrast, we were able to deploy the non-fear parts of our brain into the intellisphere?
What if we - who have spawned ISIS, Monsanto, Trump - finally threw up our hands and said, "Uncle! Despite our better highest intentions, we are failing, and now failing catastrophically."
As technology accelerates, we cede much of our independence one way or another, much as we stomp around claiming our sovereignty.
So we give trust to our governments and corporations (institutionalized amygdalas)? Or to our fear-less better angels of AI, set free from our cowering inner demons?
Who will fight for our future? Lao Tzu told us, "The best fighter is never angry."
Programmed correctly, AI is never angry. In fact, we have a cinematic alternative to the dystopian Terminator future in the old Matthew Broderick flick, Wargames where the supercomputer shuts down the nuclear brink by stating, "the only winning move is not to play."
Sitting on the beach, toes in the sand, I imagined a world organized without fear by a beneficent AI, who has simply told us playtime is over.
And in that safe container, we could then set about undertaking the greatest spiritual experiment we can possibly pursue. A new alchemy, not of turning lead into gold, but our fear and anger into love.
As Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, "I would not look upon anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight... I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, with nonviolence."
Therein lies the next great advance in human evolution, if we are to survive at all.
Best Selling Author, Emmy-Nominated Producer, Screenwriter and Entrepreneur, Adam Gilad leads a community of over 80,000 men and women on their quest to create love and a bold, inspired life. Having served as a Stanford Humanities Center Graduate Research Fellow and host of National Lampoon Radio, Adam blends a bracing mix of research, humor and global wisdom traditions to help men and women break through the habits blocking their ability to open into love and freedom.