5 November 2013

Dependence on Technology

There is a really old post (like, 2006) that was on IMDb that I posted, can't seem to find it at the moment, but I saved a copy.
I think I was replying to some guy about a film where we are nearly dependent on technology.

Does technology make us lazy?
I agree exactly, technology is there simply to make things easier for us to do - they automate our processes (hence automaton, 'automatic' prefix to everything). For example, washing machines, self-checkout services, pacemakers. Technology in this sense both protects and extends our lives without it.

Will we ever become dependent upon technology for survival?
I feel that for certain ways of survival this is true - for example, any medical system e.g. pacemakers, life support systems, kidney filtration etc. This also extends into the secondary field of technology which enables you to survive, e.g. if you need an organ transplant, the tightness and agility of the communication and transport technology is essential here.
As for being fully dependent - this begs the question of how much of us is really human - take the game Deus Ex, the film Blade Runner and the Sprawl Trilogy (Neuromancer etc.) by William Gibson - which detail on cybernetic humans - however in these forms the human is still in control. But in both cases, without technology, people (if you can call them that) cannot live.

Designer babies
This begs the question, if people can design their own babies, why can't they choose a baby that is not a 'normal' baby, e.g. one that has 3 heads, red eyes and tail? Once we have the ability to play God like that, who is to say that people won't try to make something out of the ordinary. Just watch an episode of Fringe and you'll understand.

Meaning of life
This goes into another big question about the meaning of life - the meaning of life in general being 'to survive'. Viruses are so powerful and dangerous because of their ability to adapt to new environments and harness the nutrients of its environment - a suitable reference point here being this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7DkeQ0roAM ("A Virus Walks Into A Bar") - "it completely takes over the cell to it's own uses - your cells under new management". Through natural selection the most different and capable ones survive. With humans, if you don't adapt, then you reject it.
What I'm trying to get at here is that it is vital that we adapt, doing whatever is necessary to survive. Technology is a step in this direction as with research we can find new ways to survive - some of this may be fringe science perhaps (e.g. cryogenics, uploading your consciousness to a computer). Any episode of Stargate or Fringe can take you in this direction. I am certain that in order to survive the death of our sun, we will need technology to leave our planet, assuming we haven't killed ourselves by then, asteroids haven't come to kill us etc, this is all discussed on here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risks_to_civilization,_humans_and_planet_Earth
And then what do we do when the heat death/big crunch happens? How do we survive beyond that? Technology and science go hand in hand in this area and will undoubtedly play a large role in our future.

What has science fiction taught us about our dependence on technology?
The danger of the dependence is highlighted in various science fiction entries. The Matrix, Ghost in the Shell, iRobot, Terminator etc.
In The Animatrix, The Second Renaissance Part 1, you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAjdlwnTg5w
"Man made the machine in his own likeness. Thus did man become the architect of his own demise." Like happened in iRobot, a robot kills a human. "Who was the say the machine, endowed with the very likeness of man, did not deserve a fair hearing?"
This shows us that if we give machines too much power and artificial intelligence to be like us, and humans remain stubborn, robots will do the same. If we become far too dependent on technology, we may become slaves to it. And in many ways we are already slaves to the "cold and emotionless rule of machines" as we work and spend a lot of our lives just getting technology to work (technical support and database engineers to name only a few). But what is the gain of this? On such a micro scale such as having access to the Internet, there are still a lot of problems such as viruses, spilling coffee over laptops, electrocution and fire by overheating batteries that have to be recalled (there are many sources on all of these e.g. http://www.dellbatteryprogram.com/, http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/10/30/sony-battery-recall-idUSN3030020920081030) And with the threat of cyber security, technology and the Internet in general are extremely dangerous. When your military of defence or NHS laptop (http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/security-management/2011/06/15/nhs-laptop-loss-could-put-millions-of-records-at-risk-40093112/) is stolen or hacked, there is a great threat and technology is the catalyst in the equation. Technology has therefore become a "double-edged sword" (reference to Jeremy Clarkson again). It gives us great power but it is not to be played with irresponsibly.

Technology is a good slave for us, but only a slave. As a master, it is unpredictable and full of danger. Imagine what the risk management forms would look like working for Cyberdyne Systems (Terminator).