The question is not whether technological progress is good or evil but rather towards what purpose is it being directed and whether the accumulated value it offers has increased as a consequence of all its activities
By Emma Arfelt
What sets us apart from animals is our constant desire for progress. Our curiosity and dreams of a better and simpler life has brought us to 2014, where the world is only hours or even one click apart.
Our thirst for progress and innovation has given us already given us five major revolutions, with three of those happening in the last 100 years. We are moving faster than ever, and the impact that technology has on our lives is constantly accelerating, what could be considered as the most important invention of our time; the Internet, is merely 20 years old.
It is no wonder that many are conflicted or even scared by the speed in which we develop new technologies, and what impact these will have on future generations.
Technology has been at the forefront of our evolution and at some point this century, machines will surpass the human mind in terms of intelligence and ability. This event—the “intelligence explosion”—will be the most important event in human history and navigating it wisely will be the most important thing we will ever do.
Technology > Humans
In 2000, Bill Joy, a famous American computer scientist, published an essay called “Why the future doesn’t need us” in which he addressed the fact that technology may lead to the undoing of the human species. He was convinced that growing advances in genetic engineering and nanotechnology would bring risks to humanity.
He argued that intelligent robots would replace humanity, at the very least in intellectual and social dominance, in the relatively near future. Looking at recent technological developments such as self-driven cars or facial recognition just as accurate as the human mind, Joy was probably right in his prediction. Our entire living is being handed over to technology and most of us are living in the “Cloud”. Have you ever noticed that we speak of technology as an organism that needs to survive and not just exist?
We depend on technology to exist in the modern world where everything has been scaled down to numbers or algorithms, and the utopias thought out by Bill Joy or even Stephen Hawking are getting closer to reality as each day passes. The blockbuster movie “Her” that came out earlier this year, where people fell in love with operating systems, wasn’t even classified as Sci-Fi, but rather as a drama.
Friend or foe?
Technology has forever changed our world and from now on it will only continue to increase and expand its impact. The human race might easily permit itself to drift into a position of such dependence on the machines that it would have no practical choice but to accept all of the machines’ decisions.
But is technology an enemy? Quite the opposite.
The technological revolution that has occurred for the last century has improved our standard of living with such power that it is almost impossible to imagine ourselves without it. The evolution of technology has made it possible for us to expand our lifetime by almost five decades or more. Biological inventions have improved our health and the green revolution provided us with the knowledge and technology to sustain ourselves when nature has given up.
The question is not whether technological progress is good or evil but rather towards what purpose is it being directed and whether the accumulated value it offers has increased as a consequence of all its activities. Data and technology can of course be used as a weapon, but all tools can be dangerous if misused, but for the most part these particular tools enhance human quality of life.
Viva la revolution
In revolutions you can either take part and try to influence the outcome or you can do something else and wait for the impact to hit you.
The Nordics are leading the charge in this particular revolution and that’s why the future needs us.
This post was originally published on The Nordic Web