If you’re into sci-fi, then you’ve probably heard about The Singularity. The gist of this is when technology advances far enough that it becomes sentient and takes over. Effectively, the human being would become obsolete. Sounds crazy right? But think about it — we’re already very close. Let me explain.
We’ve all known people who were put out of jobs because of automation. Our phones have become devices for which we completely depend upon (do you have as many phone numbers memorized as you once did?). Appliances keep track of things we once had to know. Our bank accounts are fully automated (and, sadly enough, breached). I get it. I really do. Technology is an integral part of the way we live. In fact, I really get it. I’m a nerd (I use Linux and rely on tech to do every job I have). But there are days when I wonder if we’ve gone too far. Do we depend upon technology more than we do our fellow humans?
Let’s face it, technology is sexy. It allows businesses to do more, well, business. It allows us to create art in ways we never could. When it behaves properly, its a true gift. When it misbehaves…it’s a nightmare. But technology is growing at a rate no one could have ever predicted. This technology allows everyone to know everything at any time…in theory. If you compare the collective information of today’s society to that of, say, when I was in high school (graduated in 1986) — it’s easy to put this into perspective.
Futurist, Ray Kurzweil predicts the singularity will occur in 2045. What they predict is that, out of technology, a super-intelligence will be created. That super-intelligence will render mankind unnecessary and, as the super-intelligence begins the creation of its own technology, will cast mankind aside. From my perspective, this is a technology-driven apocalypse. What’s really frightening is that those predicting the occurrence of the singularity are really, really intelligent. This isn’t conspiracy theory driven by paranoia and fear — this is scientifically-driven and profoundly considered. This, my friends, could well happen.
Of course, Hollywood has already done its part to make this sexy. Take the Matrix trilogy…never before has the singularity been so well glamorized. But beyond the sexy appeal of Hollywood’s singularity, there’s already a current threat the evolution of technology is bringing to the table — the absolute lack of privacy.
Everyone knows you. Everyone can know where you live. Everyone can get your information. Certain members of society can break through the thin barriers of protection you think you have and gain access to the information you assume is private. If you think you lack privacy now, just wait until artificial intelligence plays a part in this game; at that point, your very DNA will be made public.
At first blush, the singularity is a sexy idea — technology driving technology to become a completely new and sentient entity. But when that new entity means the remaining fragile boundaries between individual and organization crumbles to dust, things get a bit Orwellian in a way that George himself couldn’t have dreamed up. Smart phones will become “intelligent” phones which will require less and less of our input. Hollywood will continue cranking up and cranking out CGI to the point where actors almost become obsolete.
Is the final phase of this ever evolving nightmare the human battery for the machine?
Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of technology. What I am not a fan of is when the human machine begins to use technology against itself for nefarious reasons. We monitor, threaten, Photoshop, tweet, photograph, instagram, vine each other into oblivion. There’s no privacy any longer and it’s starting to reach a critical mass. That critical mass will only end once the machines we use to invade one another’s privacy bend us over and really show us who the boss is.
What do we do? We, as a collection of free-thinking humans, have to not allow the idea of ‘the machine as creator’ to lull us into thinking that bigger, better, and smarter technology is not always the best option. Humans are prone to error. I would still rather suffer from human error than allow perfection to insist itself upon us and remove the heart of humanity.
Think for yourself people. Live for yourself and hold dearly to the precious cargo of your humanity and your uniqueness. Once the singularity arrives — we’ll all be clones of a grander design (or we’ll wind up Soylent Green — it’s people, you know).