Tech and the Future 

Tech and the Future 

The Influence of Technology: Pros, Cons, and Complexities

Consider that over 5 billion people worldwide now use mobile devices. Social media platforms logged an estimated 4.55 billion active users by October 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic standoff revealed how profoundly integral the internet has become, as remote work, distance learning, video calls, and online shopping replaced physical interactions for safety.

Drones now deliver retail goods, self-driving semi-trucks operate between Dallas and Houston, and the metaverse promises immersive virtual collaboration.

Modern society exists within an ecosystem of interconnected technologies thoroughly embedded into human life. Technologies shape how we communicate, access information, conduct business, move about the world, receive healthcare, relate to one another as communities and individuals, and even form our sense of identity.

With innovative discoveries and advancements arriving at an ever-quickening pace, both beneficial and harmful implications multiply rapidly.

Our life rapidly entrenched in the latest technology. While this is awesome, the rise of AI pushes the limit even more that mankind can now argue that we are at the precipice facing no more steps upward but a great decline.

OpenAI recently announced the release of Sora, “An AI model that can create realistic and imaginative scenes from text instructions”.

Apple released its Vison Pro AR/VR set, which is a leap into a world of untapped imagination and is getting better daily. I am asking, are we not boxing ourselves into smaller and more secluded spaces controlled by technology?

These digital transformations yield conveniences that enhance productivity, enjoyment, and connection—attractive upgrades to the quality of life. Healthtech innovations enable telemedicine consultations and remote patient monitoring. Smart home devices allow controlling appliances and the environment from afar. Cryptocurrency facilitates direct peer-to-peer financial transactions across vast distances.

But ease and speed come at the steep price of vulnerability. In 2021 alone, ransomware attacks increased by 150%, hacking collectives like Lapsus$ pilfered sensitive data from tech giants Microsoft, Okta, NVIDIA, and Samsung, and cryptocurrency heists made off with almost $3 billion worth of stolen assets. The Twitter breach by a Florida teenager highlighted security flaws in even the most seasoned web platforms.

War, a big benefactor of the tech age, gives rise to numerous innovations such as self driving drones, precise targeting devices, and supersonic missiles, all this at a detriment to humankind. As more war breaks out, more high tech devices are developed, and with the introduction of AI, one can not but imagine how devastating such machines would be.

The Ukraine-Russia war and the Isreal-Hamas war are just the tip of the iceberg of what is the come, and the recent threat of Russia being able to destroy satellite capabilities at once is a heightened tension that would ripple down to the least involved.

AI chatbots are also not left out, as they sometimes adopt violent, racist dialog when not rigorously moderated. Social media filters idealize beauty standards that lower teens’ self-esteem and skew self-perception. Autoplay video hooks prompt endless, passive scrolling that displaces sleep, exercise, and real-world relationships.

Technological systems also embed and heighten real-world inequality. When AI making loan decisions, diagnosing illness and calculating insurance risk draws biased data, it replicates injustice—denying opportunities and essential services.

Lower-income groups suffer from the digital divide, lacking affordable broadband access and modern devices needed to participate fully.

Surveillance technologies intended to enhance convenience, safety, and commerce also effectively erase privacy rights when unchecked.

Facial recognition already tracks individuals across cities without notice or consent. Chinese authorities use smart glasses to identify citizens and assemble expansive data profiles. Alarmingly to some, Neuralink aims to directly link human brains with computers in the name of enhanced cognition—but such a portal could enable external thought control.

Society continues wrestling with ethical questions surrounding evolving innovations like genetic engineering, autonomous weapons systems, digital manipulation of photos and video and deepfakes that replicate voices and likenesses without permission. Technological capabilities often sprint ahead of regulatory oversight and public comprehension.

The environmental toll of resource-intensive technology manufacturing, use, and disposal is underpinning it all.

Discarded electronics dump lead, mercury, and other toxins into landfills and waterways. Massive data centers generating abundant heat now account for 1-2% of global electricity demand—exacerbating fossil fuel dependence. Energy-ravenous crypto mining centers leach electricity and pollute; a single Bitcoin transaction utilizes the power equivalent of 781,000 Visa transactions.

These complex dilemmas reveal an urgent need for greater responsibility in technological stewardship—from Silicon Valley boardrooms and shareholder meetings to computer science classrooms.

Firefighting reactive fixes when corners are cut for efficiency no longer suffice when innovations bear such disruptive power, whether to uplift or oppress.

Holistic solutions call for technologists and product designers to center key human values like compassion, dignity, and justice throughout the entire creative process—not just nice extras tacked on the end for marketing. Academic programs should spur students to ponder existential questions about how technologies shape lives before unleashing new systems.

Policy regulations must adapt quickly to safeguard citizens while avoiding reactionary technophobia. Investors and shareholders should reward companies taking earnest, measurable actions to secure user privacy and psychological well-being over profit maximization.

Most crucially, ordinary citizens sharing daily life with these systems must transform from passive consumers to empowered stewards.

This necessitates building digital literacy to comprehend personal data vulnerabilities, determine what fuels addictive interfaces, and spot filter fakery and algorithmic bias. Only through understanding can individuals make informed choices about welcoming innovative technologies into their homes, pockets, and bodies aligned with their values.

Technology holds magnificent promise to uplift humanity, connecting us in understanding, enabling widespread learning and health, and freeing all to actualize their potential.

Yet the same tools contain flaws and weaknesses that lower dark shadows unless checked with care and wisdom. Light and shadow dance together through the silicon age; may we have the courage to build technologies that shine so brightly they illuminate solutions to humanity’s greatest struggles.

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