We design technology to assist us, provide warnings for us, prevent us from getting hurt, to provide checks and balances, and even take over tasks (although a self-driving car failed quite tragically just recently). So let’s focus, for now, just on allegedly improved car technology.
Some people, like me, have long drives to work. They fight traffic, poor drivers, construction, and highways and byways that just weren’t constructed for the current amount of cars on the road and are in desperate need of repair. People get drowsy while driving home at the end of a long work day. They may start swerving into an oncoming lane. People get impatient and start to tailgate when boom, the car in front stops suddenly and you rear end them and a domino effect occurs. So, I thought, why not lease a vehicle with the safe driver technology? The car will warn me when I swerve out of lane, if I get too close to the car in front of me, and provide a camera to help me back up safely. Unfortunately, while my car may prevent and/or help me from hitting other cars, it does not prevent others from hitting me, but I digress. So, two years later, I have discovered something rather disturbing.
I have one car with the safe driver technology, and an older car that has none of it. What I discovered that when I need to drive the older car, I am waiting for the technology to help me. I have become dependent on it, which I found disturbing. We are creatures of habit. We drive the same way to work every day. It becomes so automatic that sometimes the car does seem to be driving itself (no pun intended), because our minds, at least the conscious part has checked out and our subconscious is driving. Hence, the “how did I get here?” feeling. We may also forget which of the cars we own we are driving. So, when driving my older car, I automatically wait for the car to give me warnings and I drive, somewhat less focused on, at least, the safety in front of me, because I expect the car to stop before I hit anything. This is a very dangerous development. I do not like being dependent on a technology and I do not like the fact that it has made me less attentive and focused on my driving. I am too comfortable because if my attention wanders, the car will stop, at least for an object in front of me, automatically (hopefully).
Therefore, I have to question “how good is all this technology for us?” There are those that will argue we are freeing our brains to do other, bigger, more creative things. The recently late Steven Hawking, is only one of the brilliant minds that have warned us about artificial intelligence. Will we give away so many tasks, that we become helpless human beings who have forgotten how to do anything for ourselves? To be at the mercy of these artificial life forms? Are we innocent sheep already walking to the slander? We are bringing this on ourselves. I am not comfortable with this new aspect of my functioning. Would you be? Is it the beginning of the end?
What do you think?