Technological advancements can make or break us

Automation made the world recoil in amazement and concern at the dawn of the industrial revolution. If only they could see us now.

We’ve come a long way from the cotton gin. 

Self-driving automobiles are now upon us; and although it would be nice not to worry about what consequences that might bring, words of caution are part of our job description. 

For all the good technology does, its side-effects can sometimes yield destructive results. 

In particular, the loss of human interaction in the face of evolving machinery. 

Never mind things like Facebook and Instagram making us lose our ability to communicate interpersonally; at this point, we have to make sure computers don’t suplant the very things that make us human. Case in point, machines that can write poetry or create paintings through human-inputted algorithms. 

That which is amazing has ceded its ground to that which is plain uncanny.

For example, there are several companies, incuding Uber and Waymo, that are trying to advance the still embyonic self-driving car industry. Imagine being picked up at the street corner by an empty vessel. 

No conversation, no rating, no humanity.  At the very least, being inside a self-driving car will cause the person who is inside to disregard their surroundings. 

Such behavior has already had tragic consequences.

In March, 49-year-old Elain Herzberg was killed by one of Uber’s self-driving cars in Tempe, Arizona. 

In this case, the emergency breaking maneuvers had not been enabled, according to an investigation conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board. 

But the obsolescence of humans doesn’t stop there.

Touch-screen computers aimed at replacing sales clerks in places like McDonalds and even our very own Onestop are rapidly growing.

Journalists are also worried that they’ll be replaced with artifical intellegence after the Washington Post’s robot reporter was introduced in 2016.

This marks a big difference between automation designed for physical labor. 

Human beings derive far more meaning from tasks and interaction that reflect things like intellect and personality. 

What if human judges are no longer necessary, or lawyers or politicians? 

What happens when we become useless?

We leave you with this  unsettling and important question.

Photo by Jannes Glass on Unsplash. 

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