Present Shock – Will Technology Destroy Us?

In 1970, Alvin Toffler wrote a book called Future Shock, wherein he speculates that we are being overwhelmed by the rapid changes in technology and society.

I was nine years old in 1970. We were guzzling .29 cent a gallon highly leaded gasoline and making calls on heavy bakelite rotary dialed telephones; many of us sharing party lines. Here we are a scant 40 years later and folks are walking around wearing phones in their ears or carrying around hand-held devices that only science fiction writers had the foresight to dream up back then. Where is this headed, and do we really want to go there as a species?

Technology is a wonderful thing, but like all wonderful things, men have a tendency to twist it to their own means. Einstein once said, “Technological progress is like an ax in the hands of a pathological criminal.” This reminds me of another great quote, from 1970, coincidentally: Pogo cartoonist Walt Kelly stated, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”  This is a blog about technology, or one specific area of it, anyway. Maybe this article will make you think a bit about this subject.

To me, technology, like a handgun, is neither good nor evil. It just is. What is good or evil depends on how it’s used. The human race has access to absolutely amazing things these days. We have an emerging noosphere in the form of the Internet. What I wonder about is how all this technology and knowledge will be used. What’s it going to be like in another 40 years or so? Will we still be here?

The Doomsday Clock was moved up a minute recently as a result of stalled nuclear arms reductions, unsafe nuclear power plants, and climate change. That’s the least of our troubles. While technology provides jobs, improves our lives, brings us pleasure, enables instant contact with each other; there are entities out there in the corporate word bleeding every shred of data from us to use for their own means.

Privacy? This is quite possibly a thing of the past. We like to think we still have our privacy, but the reality is that Big Bro and everyone else willing to pay for it can gain access to every tidbit of data about us out there right now. I read today that Google is now going to include G+ data into the search stream when folks go there to search for something. Hmm… I always knew G+ was a means to an end. There’s a saying going around these days regarding free online services. I don’t know who first said it, but it’s disturbingly accurate. “If you’re not paying for the product, you ARE the product.”

Where is this all heading?

Let’s talk about the medical field for a moment. We have pacemakers, manufactured joints, prostheses, etc. This form of technology is exploding at an amazing pace. In a few years, I wouldn’t doubt there there will be augmentations available similar to the ones in the game Deus Ex. I wrote a review of the latest game in that series earlier at Nocturnal Slacker v2.0. While the game is fun and the story is intriguing, the possibilities for abuse, as shown in that game, are terrifying. I’m 50 years old. I may still live to see something like this in the near future. Your grandkids will, for sure.

Speculating on the future is no one’s strong suit, really. It’s much too unpredictable because man is often an unpredictable animal. We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, though, you can make a difference in how the future turns out by staying informed, choosing leaders who you believe will make the right decisions for our future as a species, and standing up for your rights. Don’t let the greedy few trample the lives of the rest of us.

I’ll close now before I start into a angry diatribe regarding unrestrained capitalism and greed.

Whoops! See what I mean? ;)

Later…

~Eric

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6 Comments on “Present Shock – Will Technology Destroy Us?”

  1. So well stated Eric! And this is doubly true about SOPA and PIPA. There are so many unintended consequences that are not only possible but will be abused. Power in the hands of unscrupulous is extremely dangerous, power in the hands of those with good intentions but do not look at all the possible scenarios, is downright scary. Not only that, but these will break the Internet.

    Love that picture at the end BTW. So very true!

    • I actually had notes written about what I wanted to write in this article. That’s unusual for me. I’m more apt to write off the cuff here and at Nocturnal Slacker v2.0. I had to cut the article short because it would have gone on for another three or more pages. I wanted to talk about SOPA and PIPA and the Occupy Movement, too, but… well, maybe another day. I can’t always be writing about Linux, you know. ;)

  2. Barnabyh says:

    Great piece! You’re a philosopher, too.

    > and do we really want to go there as a species?

    Probably not, but we won’t have a say. Unless there’s a revolution the powers that be will railroad it through. They have the money to make the executive do their bidding, under the guise of upholding the law. Nobody up ‘there’ cares about what’s right or wrong, and there are enough thugs who only joined the Police so they can legally beat people up who will gladly stomp on ‘Filthy hippies’, even if these are much better educated middle class grandmothers.

    I feel a rant coming on as well, better stop.

  3. ichase says:

    Great Article Eric, I agree with so much of it. I have many of my own opinions in regards to what you wrote but it could be a book as well.
    I will only comment on this one small point.

    …choosing leaders who you believe will make the right decisions for our future as a species.

    Only if you truly believe that your vote “really” counts. Not to mention that “None of the above” is not a viable option when you are not at all impressed with what you are given to vote upon. ;)

    Ian

    • Well, to be perfectly honest… I get more and more jaded every passing year in regards to whether or not my vote counts… or anyone’s vote, for that matter. I suspect that politics is just the dog and pony show put on to distract us while the real wizard behind the curtains manipulates the system as he (they) see fit. That rant would require an article of its own somewhere else, though. ;)


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