Probably…never. We live in a reality when massive, irreversible changes are taking place faster than ever before. Sixteen years ago we stepped into a new millennium, holding our breath and waiting for the innovation to enter.
Today, our feelings are much different, we are no longer afraid of the future. Because the future is now. But aren’t we a little bit too enthusiastic?
Let’s find out what are the potential dangers we may face by accepting and using technology novelties without thinking about the consequences.
It is very likely that in the nearest future mobile devices will be the only computers people will use.
The number of mobile users is constantly growing, leaving the latter, bigger machines way behind. According to industry predictions, by 2025 mobile platforms will be generating up to 80% of all Internet connections.
Obviously, we do not only browse the net from our homes, we search for information basically everywhere. In this matter, Wi-Fi is the limit.
The role of mobile devices in our lives is constantly changing and expanding. Phone calls, text messages, social media sharing, taking photos and making films, using them as a source of information…are only a few examples, but these are still not enough. We want more and more mobility in our everyday lives.
Exchanging money, monitoring health, registering fitness sessions – we download lots of applications to be able to do all of that. But can we get even more? Wearable computers? Smart watches? Smart glasses? Yes, all of this is already at our fingertips. Literally.
Nevertheless, mobile solutions are extremely innovative, and it is just so millennial to have one device offering a wide range of applications, we have to use them consciously. We need to remember that being mobile means we are exposing our belongings to public view, very often to the ones that may be interested in getting our personal data and using it against us. Our privacy and wealth are in danger, as robbing mobile devices from data and is relatively easy nowadays. Therefore, it should be our priority to keep these things safe, while exploring the world with the use of technology.
Another thing evoking much controversy is artificial intelligence.
The vision of self-driving car is not a recent one, since first attempts were taken in 1920s. Almost hundred years later, first autonomous cars are tested on the roads of the United States. We can watch these tests on our mobile devices, as they are being filmed by drones.
Artificial intelligence is everywhere. And roughly speaking, it’s great. Machines are programmed to make decisions, analyse big data, manage knowledge resources, make medical diagnosis, perform surgeries, or simply to play a logic game, like chess.
Sounds impressive, but numerous discussions are taking place all over the world, concerning moral values and ethics of such actions. Pure intelligence, no emotions, no philosophical thoughts, just information processing. Creating super intelligent robots that have none of the above can be disturbing and leads to wondering about our future.
If we build machines and program them to work for us, what is left for us to do? Unemployment is just one side of the coin, as there is something more. If machines are prepared to do most important jobs in the world, there is a risk of them taking control over us.
Is this what we really want? Well, as long as the above fears are real, they are not realistic, since we are the ones who actually make the robots and it’s entirely up to us to decide how far they will go. To put it simply: they are only as intelligent, as we let them be.
Smart city is one of the most popular and enigmatic concepts of recent years.
Most of us are not aware that we already live in smart cities. Travelators, home automation, and mobile phone chargers are available basically everywhere but are not enough reasons to call a city smart. According to Mark Deakin and Husam Al Waer, there are four elements that need to be present:
- The application of a wide range of electronic and digital technologies to communities and cities
- The use of ICT (information and communication technologies) to transform life and working environments within the region
- The embedding of such ICTs in government systems
- The territorialisation of practices that brings ICTs and people together to enhance the innovation and knowledge that they offer
Barcelona, New York, London, Singapore, or Hong Kong, are just a few examples of cities in which smart solutions have been incorporated years ago. Just to remind you – smart solutions are first and foremost designed for people to make their lives easier, more productive, and to help the environment in a most efficient way possible.
Again, innovative solutions are being called into question since people are simply too afraid of a ‘Big Brother’ kind of life. Why? Because smart solutions can work properly only by collecting data concerning citizens and visitors of a given area. The biggest threat is that personal information from Internet users is gathered, analysed, and may be used arbitrarily.
So, what are the most dangerous technological threats of the nearest future? It seems that the biggest focus is on uncontrolled information flow and mobility, resulting in less privacy in cities and big data misuse. These are the most prominent dangers we need to keep in mind. But on the other hand, there are dozens of possibilities and improvements they bring, which we can’t even imagine today.
Every change brings new challenges and fear is a natural stage of the process. But technological era has already started. The future is now. Tomorrow, we can make it better.
*Source: Deakin, Mark; Al Waer, Husam. “From Intelligent to Smart Cities”. Journal of Intelligent Buildings International: From Intelligent Cities to Smart Cities 3 (3)