By Roger Paradiso
The robots are coming! The robots are coming! I am concluding my top ten nightmares of the digital world serial. As you can see by the chart to the right, there is an expected increase in robotics for what they call professional services. That’s almost acceptable. It’s been with us for many years, and we have survived. What I am worried about in my countdown to the 5th slot of digital nightmares is the use of military/police/ terrorist robotics.
- The military has been experimenting with robots for a long time. I predict that in the next ten years they will have perfected robotic soldiers that can shoot lethal weapons. Military humans would direct the robots in battle (and the rest will be history). We do have drone technology, which provides very popular aviation killing machines. Like drones, robots are lethal. If the military has them, then the police will. If the police have them, then the bad guys will. Bad guys meaning people like terrorists and drug czars. Go watch a robot movie now and you will see what I mean. Is this the digital age’s fault? Yes, with assistance from the computer age. Remember, the effect of global change on society always has good and dark sides to it. Robotic development is a dark force.
- I went to a Verizon cell phone store because I was having a minor problem with my phone. Several hours after I left the store my phone refused to operate. It was on, but it didn’t do anything. I called the store. “Oh,” said an employee, “It’s like a stroke. You know, like a mini stroke.” I was amused by the medical diagnosis. My phone was having a mini stroke. “What?” “Yeah, well with all the cell towers and 5g waves going around, the phones get confused. They act a little strange,” he said. “Ok what do we do,” I asked? “You have to reset.” “Oh, and how do you do that?” The person was multi-tasking while directing me to where the reset button was, but after a few minutes the phone worked.
My concern is about driverless cars, trucks, and airplanes. What happens if they have strokes? Are reset buttons infallible? Can we survive power grids or nuclear weapons having strokes? Or being subject to malfunctioning equipment because of hackers and terrorists? I guess the powers that be feel we can, for the greater good of progress.
- The digital cloud. Cloud technology is a new way of looking at something that doesn’t exist, materially, in the physical world. If a digital cloud is something we can’t see, why call it a cloud? It strikes me as odd, but marketeers are so clever. (Don’t we love brand names?) It is the new thing for banks and all companies, and individuals, to store—in clouds—their precious photos, films, novels, letters, poems, music, and just about everything, including your money. So I entered into a discussion with my IT person who swears to me the cloud exists even though it doesn’t in the manner we have been accustomed to.
“There is no cloud like you think a cloud looks like. It’s just a set of digital codes that create a digital cloud that stores many things,” said my IT person. Hmmm. “What happens,” I asked Mr. IT, “if the cloud disappears?” He admitted that was possible, but highly improbable. “Ok,” I said. I quickly called my broker and instructed that he sell everything I have in stocks that has anything to do with clouds. He said that would be impossible, “Everybody is using clouds.”
We are doomed.
- Digital bondage. The cry now is to cut the cable cord in our lives and replace it with the newest and greatest invention: streaming with 5G technology, they call it. In China, right now, they are creating enormous-sized televisions monitors that house computers. One of these will replace your small TV with a large screen (over fifty inches) TV computer.
This monitor/computer/TV will contain a large number of channels, apps, and gaming already programmed in, so you won’t have to worry about going to the smart TV button and finding your app screen. It’s all already there. The monitor devices will come with 5.1 surround sound and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth internet-ready capability. They really are computers, but marketing folk will call them home theaters.
And guess what? In China they can make this monitor/TV at half the price of current “smart” TVs.
You will be able to operate the unit with your cell phone and add on a visual keyboard, or a Bluetooth large keyboard to use the monitor as a computer or to use it as a TV. The home theater becomes even more enticing compared to movie theaters.
But by cutting the cable cord, will we let the digital companies take over our brains?
- Facebook aka Fakebook, Google, Apple, Amazon. These are huge digital age companies that want to control our lives, on their terms. They want us to have an operating system that is their brain. They want us to communicate through one system which is Facebook. And they want us to buy things through Amazon. Apple wants us to think of their phone as the only communication hardware/software we need.
Scott Galloway, a critic of current big tech, spoke at a Ted conference. He called Google the brain for our now lazy brains. Facebook is the heart for our weak of heart moments. Is Facebook a media company? Yes, it is. Facebook says it isn’t. Facebook is a media company.
Scott floored me when he said, “We have our religion; it’s Apple. Our Jesus Christ is Steve Jobs, and we’ve decided this is holier than our person, our house, or our computer. We have become totally out of control with the gross idolatry of innovation and of youth. We no longer worship at the altar of character, of kindness, but of innovation and people who create shareholder value.”
The digital age will create havoc for our civilization. But perhaps not any more than the industrial revolution did. Time will tell. In the meantime, check your messages on your phone, or text, or watch a video. Gifts from the digital age.