Man evolved. Is evolving as I write this. Only restricted by its biological pace of evolution. Every moment someone somewhere is coming up with innovations to make life more convenient. And in the process is attempting to pass human intelligence to machines.
New age home appliances are been programmed to take over human role and make life even more convenient than it already is. I mean, wasn’t a fully automatic washing machine convenience enough? Now we need washing machines that can do more! We need air conditioners that can declare when they need service. The usual one service before onset of season and the other at the offset isn’t good enough!
Increasingly, we have achieved success in two fields – One, in getting the machines to communicate. Second, in having the humans avoid direct communication as much as possible and route it through machines.
With Artificial Intelligence, gadgets have learnt to communicate with each other. Liberals will say that “But you still got to trigger a reaction. Gadgets react to a command as per pre-programmed algorithms.” The way I look at it – God once thought the same about us. While we were still the dumb neolithic-age wanderers & food gatherers. We were reacting to God’s other creations. Now, we have become proactive.
We are already enslaved to a smartphone. A recent survey I read about somewhere stated that nearly 64% of smart home product owners used a smartphone to control or monitor their automation devices at home. Which includes security systems, lighting, appliances and entertainment devices.
Increasingly, we have achieved success in two fields – One, in getting the machines to communicate. Second, in having the humans avoid direct communication as much as possible and route it through machines. I mean, what are we really doing with all the ‘free time’ these smart gadgets should be offering us? We aren’t socialising more! We aren’t spending any more time with family or friends than we were earlier – rather it is only reducing with the advent of better technology – which keeps us connected. To whom? People we don’t even know.
Take a simple example. What is an automatic washing machine with dryer supposed to deliver apart from clean, washed, rinsed & dried clothes? Marketeers would have you believe that this machine ‘allows’ you to ‘retain’ your ‘naturally soft hands’ so that when you touch the ‘stubbled face’ of ‘your man’, he wouldn’t ‘step away’. Underlying statement being – that it gives you freedom to enjoy quality time with your beloved!
Is it really doing so?
Because at the same time some other marketeer is encouraging ‘your man’ to ‘spend time’ with an ‘e-commerce portal’ to ‘buy his woman’ a ‘fully automatic washing machine or something similar’ so that he can free her time to spend it with him.
And the ‘woman’ finding the ‘man’ engrossed in ‘purchase of the day’ settles with an ‘ipad to connect with friends she hasn’t seen or heard from in; let’s say; ten years since college. We are consistently freeing our time with the help of one gadget in order to invest that time in engagement with another. Our gadgets communicate. We don’t.
Ironically enough, I am engaging with you in a similar fashion at this moment. Are we in control? My answer is No! You are free to opine.
Hollywood has explored this in many ways – from I, Robot about a techno-phobic cop to the Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001 with a murderous computer HAL. Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain’s pre-eminent scientists has expressed his skepticism over AI. While AI has given us the audience to an accomplished mind such as his by way of the Intel system that enables him to speak, he himself is of the belief that should we attain success in creating something that can match or surpass humans, it would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, limited by slow biological evolution wouldn’t stand a chance to compete and will be superseded. Even Elon Musk, Chief of Tesla & Space X shares his fears.
I am thinking. Are you?