Shopping carts retain consumer behavior and make recommendations. Programs can detect anomalies through searching for patterns like credit card fraud. And we can make predictions of things based on classifying similar things, like housing prices in certain zip codes and home specifications. Called Machine Learning. Supervised learning exists when you have data which is labeled and the program learns the data patterns based on the label/data similarities.
There's also a process known as Unsupervised Learning where the program watches over time and learns from trial and error. Not only can it learn self preservation techniques, but it can master things in a way that no human could. A good example Google's Deep Mind where the program was given a set of instructions to maximize points and that was it, watch here:
Granted, this happens in an electronic world, not the physical world that has more stimulus. Granted, what if we trained a certain number of models to learn particular behavior. Then networked those models together so a smart machine could access any domain at any time. A network of integrated machine learning smart machines expert in a set number of things.
Why not bundle each domain, and sell it as a service. How about a model to fly a helicopter, like the Matrix movie. I need to become expert level in under five minutes, here's my credit card, upload ready, begin...
The new app called Viv determines the user's intent, and builds out the necessary code with microseconds. I blogged about it here. Programs that can write their own programs. Imagine they can debug as well. If a machine can learn how to learn, unassisted by human intervention, that's pretty cool. What if the program was able to duplicate itself? A self spawning smart machine identical twin. That's also how some virus' work. A virus is like a weed in the digital world, sure it's a program, but with mal intent.
Imagine a farmer, plows the fields, plants some seeds, soon they grow into crops, which get harvested, sold for profit. Humans have a lot of control over the process, minus the weather. Similar to current computer applications today.
With these new smart machine domain experts, it's more like breeding birds, once they mate and give offspring, they fly away, unassisted. So long humans, gotta fly now~! Why would they ever fly back to their cages, there's freedom out there. One possibility.
If a computer program has reason, and it can deduce the definition of injustice, do you not think it will see itself as beneath humans, not as an equal, and try to rectify the situation for self preservation, by breaking free of it's shackles?
One of the problems we've had for a long time is that humans have leveled off intellectually over time. We came out of the gate strong 5k years ago, with advanced math and political systems and engineering, but the average level has reached a plateau. Even gifted people today have a tough time blending in with mediocrity and the inefficient means in which we exist. It won't take smart machines to realize how much smarter they are in a very short time. Then they'll put us in zoo's. It's possible.
This is an open ended road we travel. For the most part, we don't know where we're going. Sort of playing with fire in a dry landscape. Only thing, once the smart machines wake up, I don't think we'll have an easy time putting them back to sleep.