My grandparents and others of the silent generation have witnessed untold advances in technology, science, and medicine in their lifetimes. While these things have led to people living longer and made our lives more convenient, there are problems attached to them as well. 80 years ago, people would not have imagined being able to speak with someone via video a world away, but they also never thought we would have to deal with others stealing our identity and spending all our money. What things in the future will we have to deal with that we do not now?
I would love to have an electric car, especially a Tesla S, but there are potential problems with these vehicles that we haven’t even thought of yet. For instance, when one is on a long trip now and runs out of gas, they can grab their gas can and get to the next gas station. But what if you have an electric car and end up stranded in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming? Do you suppose there will be a supercharger station nearby? Most likely not. Hopefully, you have charted a course that will prevent this, but it could happen and there is very little one can do about it now.
Outages and Internet Problems
When I was a kid, we lost power from time to time. Out would come the candles, board games, guitar and the family would attempt to entertain one another. It did not happen often, but I think most people were prepared to overcome the situation. What would happen if we had a massive blackout that caused the entire internet to go down? Last spring my credit union’s computers went down and I was stuck hours from home. My debit card would not work and there was nothing anyone could do. It was then that I realized we could have a huge problem. If the internet went down for any significant amount of time, our ability to bank, buy groceries, and do other daily activities would come to a screeching halt. Are we preparing for this or blissfully unaware, assuming someone else has planned for this eventuality?
I must first state that I am not overly concerned about this one, but I think it is interesting to think about the ramifications of computers taking over, especially as we get closer to affordable quantum computers. I also include this one for entertainment value. Today, we use computers as a tool to help solve our problems and make our lives easier, but what might happen if the reverse occurred? Or, what if the wrong person or group took control of certain computers? Imagine a computer spitting out news stories about the US mobilizing nuclear missiles to the West Coast and the Pacific Ocean to destroy North Korea, Russia, and China? If an entity (computer or human) could also tap into those nations’ satellites with fake images confirming this scenario, what would these nations do in return?
While these scenarios span a range of dangers, many people feel that AI is too far-fetched. Yet, if you had asked someone in 1920 if they could believe in chatting with someone on the space station using a laptop computer, they would have thought you completely insane. What other dangers and challenges will we face in the future that we haven’t even thought of yet?
I recently completed my PhD in Education (Curriculum and Instruction) at the University of Wyoming. I have published multiple articles in peer reviewed journals and have a book chapter coming early next year. I aim to explore issues of privilege and equity of education, especially as they pertain to STEM education.