Advances in technology have improved our daily lives and helped us get to where we are today. Lifespans are made longer through the use of pacemakers and life-support systems. We have sent a man to the moon and explored other planets beyond our own. There are maps installed into our cars that talk to us and tell us the quickest route to our desired destination. But what happens when instead of being a helpful tool, technology starts to take over?
At times, it seems like it already is. We walk around like zombies with our heads down, buried into our phones, totally oblivious to the world around us. And to be fair, there are so many features on today’s phones that are both intriguing and efficient.
For starters, phones can decide whether to unlock themselves based on whether they recognize the fingerprints of the user or not. This may just seem like an insignificant detail, but it’s actually pretty advanced. Within the phone are a countless number of apps for every need imaginable. There are the basics such as addicting games and photo editors. There are apps to track the user’s fitness and caloric intake in order to keep a healthy lifestyle. Internet users can order clothes, shoes, and even food to their doorstep with just a few quick clicks and keystrokes.
At what point is the human element of life compromised and instead we just become a society ruled purely by artificial intelligence?
Think for a minute. Your phone or laptop has suddenly stopped working through no fault of your own (this happened to me the other day, which sparked the topic of this column). No spills, no drops, no cracks–just a black screen for no reason. At first, the initial response is anger. This is a valid response because for the amount of money people pay for a these devices, they should work as they’re supposed to.
But then, a sense of panic sets in. How will you stay in contact with your friends? How will you maintain your Snapchat streaks? What if you lose all your pictures? Let’s face it, our society today, particularly younger generations, spends an excessive amount of time relying on our devices, and the thought of going without them is too unpleasant to fathom.
Then, there is the unrealistic expectations for efficiency that our abuse of technology has created. Taking the time to look a word up in a good old-fashioned paperback dictionary is just inconvenient when Google is right at our fingertips. Dealing with Domino’s employees over the phone is too daunting of a task, so an online ordering page was created to avoid human-to-human communication as much as possible. It is true that talking to real person may hold the possibility of taking longer and possibly running into a mistake or two, but that is a fact of life that we need to get used to. Things aren’t always going to run smoothly and that’s okay.
And when simple, everyday technology fails to run smoothly, it’s usually just an inconvenience that is easily remedied. But for self-driving cars and even the newly famed “hoverboards,” malfunctions could be a bit more dangerous and possibly life-threatening.
Car manufacturers like Tesla and Subaru have introduced new models that can essentially drive themselves. They do so by sensing the environment around them including obstacles, signage, and other vehicles, and with the information collected, they pick the safest path to navigate.
If this idea spreads to other manufacturers and becomes the norm, that means that streets and highways will be filled with self-driven vehicles, and drivers will no longer be in command. The human element of driving will become obsolete, leading to passive passengers who are even more preoccupied than they are now. If the system malfunctions, and the car loses control, that could lead to a fatal situation.
However, manufacturers and the consumers have a “what came first, the chicken or the egg” relationship. Is it that the people actually want these technologies to do it all for them? Or do the companies manufacture these products and advertise them in a way that makes the consumer think it’s a good idea? It is hard to tell.
Either way, it is important for consumers to be careful when these advances come out and consider how much they really want their lives to rely on technology. Because if we’re not careful, someday artificial intelligence may take over.