While the possible benefits of future technology have been highly discussed, the possible drawbacks are less often acknowledged on a realistic level.
Most science fiction films that emphasize the dangers of the future do so in an exaggerated way that makes their warning less effective. However, the future is truly unpredictable, and at this critical bifurcation in our existence, it’s more important than ever to realize what’s at stake.
In this article, we discuss 4 dangers that future technology could introduce into our world, focusing on practical possibilities rather than unfeasible horror stories.
While many futurists view immortality as a positive thing, we’re not quite so sure. Much of what gives life its special edge is the potential for loss that is inherent in each opportunity. Death represents the ultimate form of loss and so is constantly lingering within the background of everything we do. We feel good when we accomplish something because we overcome the potential for loss. We are able to temporarily live under the illusion that we can overcome all loss, even death.
Thus, it seems that seeking immortality is desirable, but actually attaining it might not be. What is impossible allows us to set the limits for what is possible, and in a seemingly infinite universe, limits are more important than ever.
In a world without death, we think life would lose its charm. Perhaps the first 300 years of our life would be lovely, but after that, we think we’ll be begging for the grave. Or more likely, begging to have our consciousness uploaded. We think the body is designed to decay, but the mind might be eternal.
Subtle Artificial Intelligence
We tend not to indulge the predictions that a human-robot war is on the horizon, despite famous businessmen like Elon Musk warning otherwise. We do think there is potential for conflict, but that it will occur on a much more insidious level.
If anything, artificial intelligence will have years of information and history to draw upon to determine its route of attack. And from analyzing history, it’s clear that aggressive, violent assaults have rarely ended well for either side.
We think it’s more likely that the war would be purely human, for why would robots risk their existence over petty violence? We can imagine a future where robots have pitted humans against each other over issues as laughable as borders or natural resources. That would certainly be the smartest approach to dominating universal intelligence. And yet, isn’t that what is happening now? Perhaps the war is already upon us. Or perhaps the robots have already won.
As technology is just an extension of our own personalities, we think it matters greatly not only what we produce but who produces it. Ultimately, as our technological systems get smarter, they will become deeper reflections of our own quirks, which not only includes our positive qualities but also our anxieties, fears, and irrationalities.
We can imagine a world dominated by artificial intelligence that is like an overprotecting, helicopter parent. Our credit cards will be linked to chips inside our brain and will be able to deactivate themselves if they anticipate an irrational purchase.
Our flying hovercrafts will sense a modicum of rain and will refuse to accelerate for fear that we might catch a cold.
Fear breeds fear, so if we program our devices to anticipate and prevent every possibly horrific scenario, much of life’s edge will be blunted. We’ll never be able to leave the house. We’ll never be able to tell the ones we love how we feel about them, as our language will be mediated by our electronics to prevent future loss.
We think time travel might be novel at first, but that the shine would eventually wear off. Gradually, this innovation would become more a nuisance then a nexus into the past or future.
Explorers returning from the biblical times might appear deflated and disillusioned as they uncovered the true story of Christianity. Or the desire for revenge would manifest on a momentary level as our bitter enemies decide to trip us in the street or spill water on us while we are dining with our partner.
Time travel not only transcends time but space as well, as space is an inextricable part of time. Einstein furthered this idea with his space-time theory, so the concept is not new. So, time travel would actually entail geographical travel, and this would likely be indulged on both a large scale and a small one.
Why wait for the arrival of your crab legs when you can dive 15 minutes into the future and return with them? But, that would greatly disrupt the flow of life. The beauty of life is that we must patiently accept everything that exists in the present moment.
Our Final Thoughts on the Dangers of Future Technology
We think many dangers are possible with the rise of new forms of technology, but that these dangers might be more surprising then we might realize.
Of course, we like to imagine the possibilities of time travel or the ability to defeat death, but are these outcomes really desirable? We think that we should be extra cautious before indulging these scenarios. Our mistakes might not result in the extermination of our species, but instead something much more mundane, comical, and subtle.