Terry from Derry: Chaos Reigns
By Terry Boyle
Technology is something we all have to contend with. Most of our advancements as a civilization are due to our technological progress. From the development of the internet, mobile phones, and in recent times A.I (artificial intelligence), we are seeing an explosion of new avenues of experimentation.
In most cases, these advancements are beneficial to society. We have refined methods for analyzing and treating disease. There are even tests being done at the moment with nanobots that can distinguish cancerous cells from good ones. This nanotechnology could prove to be a more effective way of eliminating cancer.
Watches tell more than time. Now your watch can indicate if you’re on the brink of a medical emergency.
We’ve seen how the James Webb telescope has allowed us access into the depths of our galaxy and beyond. Through this new technology, we are able to identify planets capable of sustaining life as we know it. We are venturing beyond our world to other planets (what used to be the stuff of sci-fi) and discovering incredible finds.
Science continues to investigate new ways to deal with the challenges that face us as a species. Only recently, M.I.T has suggested that there may be a way to either slow down the risk of climate change or stop it by developing space bubbles to block the most harmful effects of the sun. There are even attempts to find enzymes to eat the vast amount of plastic that we cannot get disposed of in any healthy way.
Our own communications systems have radically changed. Remember those days of watching Star Trek and seeing them communicate via a hand-held device? These days we depend on those same devices for everyday use. Our watches can send messages, receive calls, and provide us with information.
We have access to data, to quote the cliché, at the touch of a finger.
There’s no need to go scouring through endless books in a library, or past newspapers, to find information. The internet has made our lives so much easier by providing us access to an incredible amount of shared knowledge.
How many times have we puzzled over a problem and wondered where to find the answer? Ask your phone, and you’ll have any number of websites to choose from. And, unless you’re discriminating, you’ll find that some of that information is not factual, but the stuff of nonsense – and that’s the rub.
Technology is not an excuse to switch off our brains. Just because a computer can provide us with information, we should not believe everything we’re told. Search any item and you’ll find there are misleading quasi-facts, conspiracy theories and any number of quack ideologies for the choosing.
For some people, delving into some of those more ridiculous theories is tantamount to disappearing down a rabbit hole and into some fantastical dimension of unproven knowledge. One thing technology has not changed, is how gullible we can be.
Read some of the conspiracy theories regarding vaccinations. There are those people who believe that the government has tainted the vaccine with a microchip so as to monitor and control you.
The deniers of science are usually those who know nothing about science, but everything about the human need to believe in something even if it’s not the truth. The same people, if given the choice of ending up in the ICU or being restored to health, might quickly change their opinion when it comes to science.
War of the Worlds
It’s just amazing to me to listen to people who read something on the internet and believe it as fact. This is not a new phenomenon. Remember when Orson Welles broadcast H.G Wells ‘War of the Worlds’ novel on alien invasion. People believed that they were seriously under attack by aliens. They panicked. There was chaos.
A lot of people put themselves and others at risk based on a fiction that they believed to be true. We tend to be disparaging of those who lived before us, thinking of them as backwards and lacking sophistication, but when it comes to believing falsehoods, nothing has changed.
Our technological advancements do not come with the added benefit of common sense. Your phone will not make you a critical thinker. These are attributes that cannot be provided by nanobots created to target the stupid brain matter in favour of the half-smart one.
Pilate, before sentencing Christ, asks ‘what is the truth?’ He’s fascinated by two versions of Jesus. The one that believes he’s the messiah, and the other that condemns him as a heretic and insurrectionist. The Roman knows he’s being used by those who want Christ dead, but he equally is interested in knowing who it is he’s sentencing.
Technology, like most things in life, is not neutral. It’s a vital tool that can either help or hinder our progress as a species. The only way we can guarantee its effectiveness is to constantly question its use and purpose.
When Stephen Hawking queried the development of A.I, he wasn’t reacting to some conspiracy theory. He had serious scientific doubts about our judgement in creating something that could replace us. If we create an A.I that is perfect, then why would it want to serve or indeed maintain our imperfections?
If an A.I is fully realized and asked the question about what or who is the greatest threat to our planet, it would not take a genius to answer that question. We are always in danger of creating our own destruction. This does not require a degree to understand. The evidence lies in our drive to push the planet to its limits.
Despite how reasonable and scientific the facts are, we as human beings choose to take the risk and throw caution to the wind. Any attempts by world leaders to curb the effects of climate change are quickly tossed aside by a Supreme Court that has not based its decision on fact but on political ideology.
Once we stop questioning the information that we’re bombarded with, we lose our ability to save ourselves. We should never place our faith in those who govern, or those who inundate us with supposed facts.
Pilate asks the question of what the truth is, but his subsequent actions show that he’s not interested in the truth. We need to ask the same question, even if the answer is not what we wish it to be.
We might even know the truth but refuse to let it change us. Ultimately, if we believe we are more advanced than those who have gone before us because we’re more technologically advanced, then we are seriously mistaken.