As we all know, technology has become a necessity to all of our everyday lives, making our ordinary tasks quicker, easier, efficient, and a little more fun. Technology has solidified its place in society so much that if we take a look at the last 40 years or so, its advancement has grown exponentially. Think about it-- the last time the world experienced a boom in technology was during the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, of which technology's main function was to alleviate manual labor. Earlier 20th century inventions were essential, of course, take the automobiles, airplanes, and radio as a few examples. However, technology didn't start truly growing at an exponential rate until the creation of the first Apple computer by Stephen Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976. This opened up the floodgates for an entire world of invention: the internet, smart phones, apps, and countless others.
The advancement within the scientific field is directly correlated to that of technology, especially in the world of bioengineering and medicine. Stem cell research and genetic modification are prime examples, as controversial as they may be. Issues arise, particularly with genetic engineering. Although having the ability to rearrange and edit DNA in such a way that eliminates the possibility of having genetically inherited diseases is progressive, consider the consequences. Overpopulation is already a huge issue, now decrease the death rate even more. Our resources would be expended even more than they already are, resulting in a lack of food and water, and an increase in pollution. This brings me to my main point; to what extent are we willing to progress science and technology?
I have had countless discussions about this topic with friends, whom are generally in favor of as much technological and scientific advancement possible. Although I understand the benefits of technology and science, as of recently, I question its altruism and progression for humanity. Let's take robots as an example. On one hand, there are robots that genuinely do make menial tasks easier or remove them entirely, like the Roomba, and some that do progress discovery (take this underwater "pokeball" robot as an example). On the other, there are robots created with extremely advanced artificial intelligence systems that really do make you wonder whether The Matrix can one day be a possibility. It's not too far off, really, if you combined a complex robot body with artificial intelligence able to move and process information independently. You cannot tell me that a robot like that could not beat your ass. All jokes aside, the possibility of robots created by our own technology, eventually outsmarting their creators, is a grim thought, and perhaps a prospective reality.
"Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be his world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow." Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
In the present, there are already issues amongst humans ensued by technology. Deepfake is a facial recognition technology that serves as a digital mask. It takes digital photos and essentially merges them into another face and body on video or photo. Snapchat's face swap is basically this. Deepfake has caused a multitude of issues, however, as some of the merging of faces, predominantly onto videos, have been unsettlingly accurate. The reason why this is an issue, is because of facial association. If someone sees your face perfectly merged onto a video of another person, you can essentially be framed in any type of situation. This happens often in pornography, where faces of celebrities are merged well onto another's face to make it appear that it is actually that celebrity. There has even been a situation where an everyday woman's face, Noelle Martin was used in a multitude of pornographic videos unknowingly, wrecking havoc in her life.
Another issue, of course, is our invasion of privacy through the internet, and possibly via smartphone microphone. I say possibly because many of my friends who have iPhones, mention how many times ads of items they wanted to purchase appear, even though they never searched for them, and have only mentioned them aloud. Of course, ads being catered to your searches is slightly invasive, but not really problematic. Problems can raise, however, when something as intricate as our own DNA is being sold off and used for scientific experimentation that we are unaware of. It is nice to think that the DNA is only being used for the good of humanity-- but can we trust that? A highly popular DNA test is the 23andme test, owned by Anne Wojcicki, the wife of the founder of Google, Sergey Brin. Google owns 23andme, and therefore has access to all DNA they receive. What are they doing with all of that DNA? Who knows.
Whenever I had these discussions with scientifically progressive friends, you can imagine their reactions, "Those are conspiracies," "That's not likely," and so on. I have even been told that science and technology can only help humanity. Whatever the case may be, I will still always have skepticism with the "benefits," of science and technology, especially if they hurt the only Earth that we have, or take advantage of our own people. Don't get me wrong, I will still indulge in YouTube, Instagram, and all of the other sweet treasures technology has provided. Though, best said by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, "No man chooses evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks."