Here’s a scary thought: a world in which human beings are no longer the most intelligent lifeforms, and in fact are now subservient to a new dominating “life form”- one that they invented themselves. Many of you already have an answer in your minds to the question “what is this new species that could overcome humans?” because with every new invention and improvement, that world, although still avoidable and many, many decades (or centuries) in the future if it does occur, is becoming more and more real. The answer is technology.
Nicholas Carr, in the last half of his novel The Shallows, talks more about present technology and the future. He touches upon subjects such as the dominating presence of Google, artificial intelligence, how our research and thinking patterns are affected by the Internet, and briefly looks into what the future may hold. Since technology has advanced so much and has made (arguably) the largest impact on human life and societal development, there is no going back to the time before it was invented. It has simply become too beneficial and integrated into our lives. We rely on some form on technology for almost everything we do.
Carr quotes Frederick Taylor saying “in the past the man has been first, in the future the system must be first.” Taylor is referring to his “system” he invented for increasing productivity among manufacturers, once it had been globally adopted, claiming that it would bring about a “restructuring not only of the industry but of society.” Although Taylor did not have modern day technology in mind, his words can be easily applied. Taylor quoted this over 100 years ago, and man is still in charge of technology, although technology is becoming more advanced and man is becoming more reliant on it to continue to progress at anywhere near the same level as we have been. If you take Taylor’s words in the context of modern technology, they ring quite true. It is slowly becoming more true that technology (“the system”) must come first in order for humans to continue developing at the same pace that we are.
There has even been attempts to create an artificial intelligence that has a mind that can think on its own, independently of algorithms that tell it how to process information. Some people find this close reality frightening, because what will happen once man creates something that doesn’t need man’s help to survive?