The current “future” – by Matthew Smith
In a world where privacy is up for debate and identity is increasingly fading.
What do you do when the world begins to resemble the likes of a sci-fi novel? People find Science fiction interesting, creative and thought provoking, but what happens when it is no longer an idea, but part of our everyday lives? “Fiction” has become reality. Already we see people glaring at devices instead of conversing in the “real”; preferring online personas to real human interaction. Why be yourself when you can essentially portray what you want to be; filters, editing and face correction… showing a visible difference between who we really are and who we would like people to think we are. For some, your online self is more relevant than your real self and if you don’t have online popularity, you’re irrelevant.
Progress is change, and change is inevitable – but to what extent?
Since the creation of the internet, the lines of privacy have become increasingly blurred. Gone are the days where “privacy” simply referred to your physical self. With the evolution of technology, the very definition of “privacy” has changed. Your “private” information is at risk and “Cyber bullies” or “trolls” lurk the internet, creating viruses and stealing peoples’ identities. The world is becoming increasingly complicated with the older generations being left behind by a tech-savvy youth that has access to more information than they could possibly need.
Along with the general privacy implications of technology, we now live in an era of false information where with a few simple photographs and some free software, you can insert anyone into an image or video of your choice; most frighteningly, pornographic images/videos or GIFs. (https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/24/16929148/fake-celebrity-porn-ai-deepfake-face-swapping-artificial-intelligence-reddit )
On an even more frightening note, Google is currently experimenting with the possibility of AI adapting to social cues from humans – body language, facial expressions and what makes humans happy. Although the intention may be to help AI better understand human needs, there is always the possibility of things going wrong – “Terminator” comes to mind. If companies like Google and organizations like MIT are able to successfully “teach” AI to have emotional intelligence, it could be extremely good for the “future”, but it could also mean complete human redundancy. With Technology already able to best the average human (or even above average) with regards to equations and so forth, all humans will have left is their emotional intelligence, which we are teaching to technology. (https://qz.com/1209466/google-is-building-ai-to-make-humans-smile/)
However, if you fear that technology is going to surpass you, don’t worry – Elon Musk is working on it. Elon Musk; CEO of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla, Inc and Chairman of SolarCity; and the same man who is planning to take humans to Mars within our lifetime; is currently working on “Neuralink”(A thin mesh device inserted into the skull) -essentially merging your mind with a computer and creating an interface. (https://futurism.com/scientists-cant-replicate-ai-studies/)
Sounds fantastic; but why would you ever bother trying to learn again? The purpose is so that we can have a fighting chance against AI, but humans adapt, and over time it could be our downfall. Not to mention the implications of direct marketing – really, really direct. What about Privacy? Viruses? Hackers? There is a never ending list of complications that may or may not arise, not to mention the social; religious and economical implications. (https://www.outerplaces.com/science/item/17444-neuralink-brain-implant-elon-musk-black-mirror)
Recently people in Europe couldn’t pay for purchases due to a Visa network outage – further proving our reliance on technology. https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/1/17418684/visa-cards-europe-not-working-network-outage
Furthermore, people are leading such busy, competitive lives, that we are leaving our children in the hands of technology. Tablets and cellphones interact with our children more than we do; which of course means that possibly millions of “strangers” are influencing your children on some level.
It is noteworthy in this context that Facebook has come under fire recently for “selling” private user information, primarily for marketing purposes; although, sadly this isn’t a new occurrence – like mice in a cage, we are studied so as best to “consume” what we are “told”. Besides the unfortunate “selling” of our private information, there is the constant threat of malware and various viruses that “steal” user information; many applications and accounts get hacked on a daily basis – For example, FitnessPal had a 150 million-user data breach and more recently PumpUp had the information of 6 million people exposed due to faulty security protocols. This usually occurs when a server acts as a broker, exchanging user messages; this may use less bandwidth, but it is transitory and therefore allows anyone to peer in and observe data as it is being sent back and forth. (ZDNet)
With the recent trend of wearable technology, perhaps we will lose our individuality all together and evolve to fit our “new”, technological personas. Only time will tell.