"Skynet began to learn at a geometric rate"
Senior Brit boffinry chief Professor Douglas Kell seems to envision a setup of this sort. Speaking of the experimental experiments carried out by "Adam", he said:
"Computers play a fundamental role in the scientific process, which is becoming increasingly automated ... This has led to more scientific data, increasingly available on the web, which in turn requires an increased use of computers to analyse these data. Robot scientists could provide a useful tool for managing such data and knowledge, making scientific procedures easier and more efficient. This kind of learning will become even more important as we move further towards integrative and predictive biology in the era of Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web."
The worldwide roboffinry interweb hive-mind would work day and night, developing results with inhuman speed, automatically peer-reviewing them in a trice using spare processing capability, and then publishing them to itself within milliseconds. There'd be no time out for sleep, eating, practical jokes involving particle accelerators, accepting Nobel prizes etc. Presumably, now that scientists have built a machine which can replace scientists, we will soon have a machine which can replace such machines, so the whole thing should be self-sustaining.
It almost goes without saying that the self-replicating inhuman semantic-web-propelled autoscience globohookup would soon start to learn at an exponential rate, become self-aware and wipe out or enslave humanity. Alternatively, it ought fairly rapidly to reach a point at which we couldn't even understand what it was telling us: and it would therefore modify or improve us so that we could, possibly by dispensing with unnecessary accoutrements and keeping our artificially enlarged, rewired genetically-enhanced brains alive in bubbling vats of nutrient fluid.
Assuming that these pitfalls can somehow be avoided, though, it could all be pretty groovy. Hopefully the machines will crack abundant energy, antigravity, human immortality and interstellar travel before they work out the planetbuster bomb or whatever.
We would just like to note one further, rather sinister aspect of this. The team who developed "Adam" are now working on a new, better robotic seeker after knowledge called "Eve". Are they just messing with our heads? Or its this a coded attempt by the last human scientist left on the project to warn us before it's too late?*
Anyway, for those who haven't got the message that their primitive human brains are now obsolete, there's an intro here with links on to the relevant papers. ®
*You know. Apples, forbidden knowledge, chucking-out time at the Garden of Eden style of thing.