Computers routinely do mathematics that no unaided human can manage, outperform world champions in checkers and grand masters in chess, speak and understand English and other languages, write presentable short stories and musical compositions, learn from their mistakes, and competently pilot ships, airplanes, and spacecraft. Their abilities steadily improve. They’re getting smaller, faster, and cheaper. Each year, the tide of scientific advance laps a little further ashore on the island of human intellectual uniqueness with its embattled castaways. If, at so early a stage in our technological evolution, we have been able to go so far in creating intelligence out of silicon and metal, what will be possible in the following decades and centuries? What happens when smart machines are able to manufacture smarter machines?
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, New York, 1994, pp. 29-30