Digital Technology and Evolution of Humanity: How Science Fiction Is Crossing Into Reality

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Svetlana Kashirina
Professor Balcan
BCC WRT-101

Digital Technology and Evolution of Humanity: How Science Fiction is Crossing into Reality We cannot deny the fact that information technologies play a major role in the modern society. Little by little humanity becomes more dependent on the technological advancements. The extent of our reliance on “artificial intelligence” of the inventions like iPhones and Google makes some of us uneasy. In a new environment, which reminds us of a science fiction movie, we need to be in control of our own evolution in order to remain human. “Machine vs. Human” is the central theme of many movies, books, and articles. A great number of important intellectuals have offered contradicting opinions on the subject, while providing very convincing pieces of evidence: personal, scientific, historical and etc. Some call technological revolution a “blessing,” some simply think “it is what it is” and some see it responsible for a future destruction of humanity. Let’s join this discussion to find out if there is validity to the concerns and to determine if we are even capable to find a solution to the problem. As proven to us by hurricane Sandy, human dependency on technologies, is bit of a problem. The writer Aimee Lee Ball in her recent NYT article “Hurricane Reveals Life Unplugged,” describes experiences of ordinary families surviving many weeks without power: “…the storm provided a rare glimpse of a life lived offline. It drove some people crazy, while others managed to embrace the experience of a digital slowdown. It also produced some unexpected ammunition for parents eager to curb the digital obsessions of their children.” The latest case of power outage left us people, kids especially, to stare at walls not knowing what to do with our time and made us aware to what extent our lives are affected by technologies, and to what point we are really “plugged in.” Only “disconnect,” like the one recently experienced can make people understand the true nature of the addiction to technologies. The writer Gary Shteyngart is among many, who had noticed how technological dependency changes the texture of life, and reflected it in his creative works. In his 2008 article “Only Disconnect,” published in NY Times, he describes how in one “poof” his usual world “fell away” and was replaced by virtual. Shteyngart is surprised and concerned how his state of mind was completely transformed when he first became an owner of an iPhone. The author writes, “I follow the arrow taco-ward, staring at my iPhone the way I once glanced at humanity, with interest and anticipation. In my techno-figure state I nearly knock down toddlers and the elderly, even as the strange fiction and even stranger reality of New York, from the world of Bartleby forward, tries to reassert itself in the form of an old man in a soiled guayabera proudly, openly defecating on Grand Street. But sorry, Viejo, you’re not global enough to hold my attention…” Many of us can relate to this -- it’s true, our dependency on things like easy connectivity “plugs” us into this new digital world, a new reality, brought by technology. “I dream of leaving, too,” writes Shteygart , wanting to leave this new reality, dominated by “artificial intelligence” but it is not so easy.

The science fiction movie called “The Matrix,” (1999) written and directed by Wachovski brothers continues the argument that by being attached to technologies “humanity is doomed.” The movie is allowing us to actually experience living in a world that is controlled by an artificial intelligence. In this world, in a similar way we are now using machines for assistance, machines are using humans. At the end of the 21st century and shortly after “the mankind marveled at its own magnificence as they gave birth to AI” the machines have turned on their creators. After losing the war, humans were reduced to be a “power source” for the machines, since “a human body generates more bio...
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