Technology is certainly exciting, but it also has the power to intimidate. Think what someone from 500 years ago would think if you showed them a car or a plane. They would imagine that you had godlike powers.
These days, it seems like technology is moving faster than ever. Think of the innovation that has taken place in just the past thirty years.
In this article, we’ve taken the time to compile a list of technology examples that are either out now or they will be in the immediate future. They’re all pretty remarkable, but each one has the power to intimidate if not downright terrify.
Science fiction has anticipated for many years that self-driving vehicles might arrive one day. That may come in the form of a self-driving car that anyone can afford, in much the same way that you can afford a used station wagon to haul the family and your groceries around. You also might start to see self-driving trucks for moving goods around the country or self-driving public transportation like buses and trains.
Last September, a bill passed that would allow 100,000 self-driving cars exemption from federal safety standards. This indicates how urgently both lawmakers and car companies want to get these vehicles on the road.
On the one hand, self-driving vehicles seem great. You can sit there and sip your coffee while your car drives you to work. You can take the N train to Coney Island knowing that a friendly robot brain has the controls.
The other aspect of this is that if humans are not in control any longer, or they only are peripherally, then we’re putting our lives into the hands of machines. It’s hard not to think of a Terminator-like scenario where those machines become self-aware and attack us because they believe they’re superior beings. The other and much more likely scenario is that there could be a major technical glitch, causing all the self-driving vehicles to crash simultaneously.
Smartphones have existed for quite a while already, and more and more people have them. It’s not uncommon to see ninety-year-old grandmas posting on Snapchat or Instagram.
You might check your email via your phone, order a pizza with a couple of screen taps, or lock your front door from across the country. There’s no denying how much easier smartphones have made our lives.
The real problem is how addictive they are. Many medical professionals theorize that the symptoms from losing one can be as bad as heroin withdrawal for some people.
Also, you might not be aware of this, but your smartphone is tracking your location at all times. If you ever commit a crime, and you have your smartphone on you, the police can track you down within moments. That’s become a trope on Law and Order and similar cop shows, but it’s perfectly valid.
IoT means the Internet of Things. Essentially, it reveals that there’s an ever-growing network of sensors and cameras embedded everywhere, especially in crowded urban centers. You won’t find it yet out in the country, but if you go to a city like New York or Los Angeles, the groundwork for it already exists.
IoT is useful because it’s part of what will allow self-driving vehicles to communicate with one another. With IoT in place, the vehicles can “see” developing traffic patterns in real-time. The vehicles can instantaneously communicate to avoid running into one another or inanimate objects.
The potential problem is just the same as self-driving vehicles existing at all. It’s inherently frightening to think that we’ve created artificial intelligence entities that will communicate with one another.
We created it for peaceful coexistence and to eliminate things like driver errors that can cost lives. Who is to say that it might not decide to go into business for itself at some point?
Nanite technology has many different possible applications, especially in the medical field. Basically, nanites are microscopic robots. We can program them to do things like enter the human body to photograph internal organ damage or cancerous tumors.
As they become more advanced, humans can also use them to operate on damaged tissue. You might see a situation in the not-too-distant future where a doctor can have nanites enter the human body through a tiny incision, operate, and leave again in a very unobtrusive fashion. It will make surgery much neater and less messy, and there will be fewer fatalities.
However, think what it would be like to have hundreds or thousands of tiny robots in your body. Again, it’s hard not to think about what might happen if they decide to attack your cells instead of repairing them. The creators would have you believe that such an occurrence is impossible or highly unlikely, but it’s still enough to give the average person pause.
Voice-Activated Virtual Assistants
There are now many different virtual assistants that exist as well, such as the popular Amazon Alexa. This is AI technology that you set up in your home. You can communicate with it verbally from any room in the home.
You might tell it to turn on the toaster from the other end of the house. You might have it turn the lights on and off, or you could ask it what the capital of Argentina is or for a good pesto recipe. Since it is internet-connected, it can tell you just about anything as well as help you run your household.
AI’s inherent creepiness comes into play with this tech as well, though. Since it knows so much, you also must realize that it knows everything about you. It knows your most intimate and personal habits, and it’s watching you all the time.
Is it so inconceivable that it might become self-aware? That’s a recurring theme with all of this tech: as we design it to be smarter and smarter, might a time come when it decides that humans are superfluous or even a threat to it?