Unless you've had your head buried in sand for the past 20 years, you will have been exposed to at least one, if not all, of the Terminator films.
The stories of the evil Cyberdyne Systems and the rise of Skynet, along with more recent films including Transcendence, Ex Machina and Chappy, have brought ideas around artificial intelligence to life, for better or worse. But just how long is it before reality catches up with fiction?
In fact, the scary part is that we might already be there. And by the end of this year, there'll be no way we can avoid it.
The most obvious use of AI and similar technologies is in voice assistants such as Siri and Google Now. But the machines have begun to take over in many more ways than that.
Advanced machine learning is among the technologies that are already here, and they're embedded in more systems than you may think.
Advanced machine learning is among the technologies that are already here, and they're embedded in more systems than you may think. It's in Google, music-streaming services, Facebook…
It's already in Google, predicting what you're about to search, before you even search for it. And it’s there in Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming music providers. They know what music you like, even before you've heard it. Or at least, they can make a darn good guess, provided your kids haven't borrowed your account to listen to the latest delights from Zayn.
Facebook has been 'learning' your face for years. Remember how painful tagging was, before it did it for you? And there are even cases of social-media behavioural algorithms that can predict crime and disruption before it happens. Minority Report's Precrime Division is already here.
The latest Gartner technology trends list "Advanced Machine Learning" and "Autonomous Things" as two key technologies developing in 2016.
Changing the future
As AI becomes easier to develop, building predictive technology will become as simple as putting up a website. At the same time, technologies such as Raspberry Pi will make developing embedded systems easier. So it won't be long before interacting with an AI construct is as normal as using a self-checkout, or an automated phone system.
Does that mean we are heading into The Matrix? Or is it just about getting the dull things done more easily? Personally, I welcome our new AI overlords. Especially if they give me more time to build my android, which is going to make me King of the Universe.
Provided, of course, it chooses to obey me.