Essay on Concerning Issues on Science and Technology Developments More refined technologies brought huge improvements in the quality of life, but also in weapons of mass destruction. Explosives and vacuum cleaners, artillery and the microwave oven. Accurate and sophisticated theories about the nature of the universe were thought up, and then World War 2 started. Thus began the Nuclear Age – you could also call it the Age of Fear. Nuclear weapons, electronics, computers. From then on, scientific research progressed at an exponential rate.
Moreover, computing power increased with great strides, quality of life soared. Automobiles, televisions, hi-fis, telephones all improved our lives. Long range bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, neutron bombs and cruise missiles were all designed to destroy others. Throughout history, science and technology have proved to be a see-saw of sorts, with the ups and downs, benefits and disadvantages, increasing with time. Today, our quality of life in first-world countries is comparatively excellent – life expectancy is high, general affluence is high, entertainment is readily available.
But also we live with the terrible, ever present knowledge that one skirmish, one conflict, one mistake, could destroy the delicate balance of the see-saw and our weapons are such that, if used, they could render the Earth uninhabitable. Terrorists can purchase biological weapons that could wipe out entire cities, millions of people. Before, conflict only concerned a few dozen or hundred people with swords or spears, or a few thousand people with rifles. In the 20th century, tens of millions of people have died in violent wars. We pay the price for our improved lives in blood and fear; maybe it’s worth it, maybe it isn’t.
But all the same, there is a price. Along with the price, there is also hope that we can get off the see-saw. In recent years, there has been a new, relatively unpredicted, trend – the rapid increase in international communications via the Internet. The Internet is merely the precursor of a far greater socio-economic paradigm shift. Already, computing and communications technology have advanced to the point that we can converse with anyone else across the world – we are no longer reliant on media-disseminated information – we can judge for ourselves who the true oppressed and oppressors are.
Even if we cannot empathise with foreigners, at least we can talk to them. As communications have advanced, we have continually cut back on the number of intermediaries between the people involved in the conversation, and increased the ‘bandwidth’ of the communication, and consequently the intimacy. Technology can provide us with the final word in communications – first we communicated by writing, with our hands. Then we used on mouths, and our bodies. But when you penetrate to the heart of communication, it’s the exchange of thoughts between individuals that matters, not ink on paper or vibrations in the air.
Thus, for the most accurate, and the most ‘distilled’ form of communication, we would talk to each other, directly from brain to brain. This is the point where you start thinking that the author of this document has been reading too many science-fiction novels. In this case, you would be correct. But after reading these novels, I was intrigued as to whether this direct brain communication, artificial telepathy, was scientifically and technically possible.
Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) enough, it was. A mind-machine interface, or a direct brain link, is not merely science fiction. Last year researchers succeeded in interfacing a ?? disabled/paralysed?? individual with a computer so that he could move an arrow about on a screen, allowing him to communicate when he could never have before. Admittedly, this is some way off from artificial telepathy, but it demonstrates the principles behind the idea – that we can control machines through thought.
The researchers mentioned are not alone in their task of linking the brain to computers. The BT Technology Labs confidently asserted that in roughly 30 years time, we will possess the technology to record an person’s entire memories – their personality – on a single device. They called it the Soul Catcher, a name which will enthral the public. In an interview with BT’s Futurologist, Ian Pearson, he remarked, “My generation will probably be the last to die fully, which annoys me intensely. With artificial telepathy, we will be able to truly experience life in someone else’s shoes, to truly see another person’s viewpoint. We will be able to experience their emotions, to understand and empathise with them. The consequences of such a technology would be staggering to say the least, and unpredictable. It may be too much to say that we would never have a war again after the advent of mass artificial telepathy, but every increase in communications and understandings between peoples have always proved beneficial to peace.