17 Jan 2016
While the scientific community has received much of it’s breakthroughs in the past due to unforeseen, accidental discoveries, technological developments today have gone in the direction of theoretical advancement. There is the potential for improvement, so the expectation is to reach for it (or past it). This mentality leaves us advancing at an unsettling pace. Of course, there is the practical economical factors, such as supply and demand, and investor interest, but those can be manipulated with good salesmanship.
Technology follows the basic laws of science, but if science is constantly rewriting itself, is there a possibility that technology could, in select cases, be dangerous? Of course, there is a place for taking risks, and this is in fact where some of the greatest advancements in all facets of life have occurred; but there is wisdom in balancing risk-taking with patient technology appreciation. Before new technology (or upgrades in current tech) are developed, there should be an appreciation, a adoption of current advancements. We need to know what we have before we build on it’s shoulders.
It is the same mentality that high school students have when their friends are doing something that looks cool. Just because it is what peer-pressure is suggesting doesn’t make it wise. New developments are good, but there is a right time and place. Our society, being made up of sensitive individuals, react individually at varying levels to different stimuli. When new tech comes out, it is subject to the response of the community, and in extreme cases, attacks by the community.
Development of technology, just as development of an idea, needs to have an end goal. It needs to be planned out. It needs to have a proposed trajectory. Without this, money (which may be borrowed) can be wasted, and investors could find themselves unnecessarily frustrated simply because they were awed by an inspiring presentation.
Of course, technological advancement does already have some checks and balances, but only the in extreme fields. Fields like genetic manipulation, artificial intelligence, and commercial spacecraft manufacturing. But what about the advancement of the underlying equipment? What about the development of Solid-state hard (SSD’s) drives that are then placed inside larger equipment, potentially awing investors due to the quality of the individual parts instead of the larger technological scope? There is now development happening on quantum central processing units (CPUs) which will dramatically shift the timeframe that true artificial intelligence can be made available in robotics.
We are talking about the possibility of true-to-life learning robotics in maybe the next 10 years. Big names like Google, Amazon, Nvidia, and Tesla Motors are all working at some level with artificial intelligence. All of the underlying factors are very close to being ready for at least preliminary testing. All that will be required will someone to put the dots together and create a “Skynet”.
Now of course, this is a reference to a fictional story from the creative imagination of a film director/script writer. But what if the reality is our developments were allowed to advance quietly without the preliminary tests before someone tries out a self-learning AI before we really have appreciated the groups it is composed of. Molecules are made of atoms combined, and formulas are made of molecules combined, and formulas must be carefully determined in order to avoid toxic or explosive results.
I am all for technological advancement, and I will admit my lack of extensive hands-on exposure to a lot of current tech, but I do know there is wisdom in appreciating what we have before reaching for what we don’t. It’s an old idiom given to kids from parents that comes something like this, “if you still want it in a week, then you can have it…”. The velocity of advancement in our present society has left little room for appreciation for many of the wonderful new technology of the past ten years in the most accelerated fields. I would merely like to ring a bell of remember for technology that improves our lives, rather then lives improving to incorporate new technology. Life is greater then new fads, and more beautiful then new forms of exotic entertainment… Life is about relationships. Let technology enhance how people relate, rather than detract from their relating.