Inside the Advanced Technology and Projects Lab at Alphabet X(Original photograph by Anthony C. LoBaido)

Inside the Advanced Technology and Projects Lab at Alphabet X
(Original photograph by Anthony C. LoBaido)

A giant sign beckons inside the Advanced Technology and Projects lab at Google (now Alphabet X). The words comprising this ubiquitous sign cry out for higher criticism. They read, “Are we there yet?” There exists perhaps no more salient question as we move into the third decade of the 21st century. No one can say for sure where this de facto road of high technology is ultimately taking humanity. And many are seriously questioning if we as a species should continue down the path of our current digital paradigm.

Are we being turned into robots as we witness (perhaps) the birth of transhumanism (H+) before our very eyes? One can’t help but wonder if the countless millions of botched face surgeries – just look at the heartbreaking fate of many of our erstwhile Hollywood idols – as well as the iPhone addiction are merely the harbingers of something far more sinister at work.

Yes, we have Facebook. Unfortunately, we now also have “Face Look,” in which many of the stars we glamorized have chosen to look like 26-year old lizards instead of aging gracefully.
Would it surprise you to know that in 2017, well over 200,000 teenagers in the United State had plastic surgery – mainly inspired by social media?

It is often said that “data is the new petroleum.” Our society – both American and global – is driven by computers. How did we arrive at this transformational moment in history? De facto advances in fiber optics, artificial intelligence, satellite technology, transportation, travel, G5, cloud and quantum computing, as well as a plethora of other inventions, have combined to shrink the world immeasurably. We are witnesses to the emergence of the “global brain.”

The 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landings has now come and gone. It’s hard to believe that your iPhone has enough computing power to land over 250,000 Apollo 11s on the moon simultaneously. If the reader were to become a time traveler and go back in time to mission control in 1969, a NASA engineer might incredulously ask, “Who possesses this kind of technology in 2019?” The truth is as simple as it is stark: everyone has an iPhone – or so it seems. The rich. The poor. First World. Developing world. Even very small children have one.

The reality is that technology has come to dominate our everyday lives in such a way that we now take it for granted. I recall driving from Babylon, Long Island, to the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, with only a Rand McNally Atlas to direct me. I slept overnight in Wichita, Kansas. I slept again in Denver, Colorado. I never thought twice about it. We had no other frame of reference. Surely, we live in glorious, transformational times in terms of the belief postmodern technology. In fact, it can be fairly argued that technology is a modern quasi-religion whose daily miracles are commonplace.

Technology is leading mankind into uncharted territory. We’re in a new age. Consider that Sophia the AI-driven robot is now a citizen of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, of all places. Domo explains the preponderance of data here. Minute by minute the data grows. Siri, Instagram, Google Translate, Youtube.com, Facebook, Twitter, Tinder each represent a micro-communications universe. Let’s not forget similar technologies that have not yet been brought to market, or those that will be invented in the (dystopian) future.

Critics wonder if personal privacy is now headed for the dustbin of history as the NSA and similar agencies track, record and analyze every piece of available information about us. The Echelon Network popularized in the 1990s, so-called “Five Eyes” and other eavesdropping mechanisms – not to mention G5 form a nexus of an inter-connected world where there are no longer any Don Drapers from the hit TV sensation “Mad Men.” (This clip explains Draper’s emergence from the Korean War – under an assumed identity taken from his KIA superior – to become a top Madison Avenue mover and shaker in the 1950’s and 1960’s.)

For those concerned with their privacy, there is help available. David Janssen of VPNoverview.com hosts a site dedicated to VPNs, online privacy and cyber security.

Cybercrime, fraud, identity theft and a host of other digital land mines continue to grow along with our atomized, digitized global landscape. Yet perhaps the very same problems created by technology may well also be solved by technology. (Consider for example, microbes that can actually eat oil spills.) There are neo-Luddites who fear (rightly or wrongly) the emergence of drones, swarming nanobots, Terminator-like killer robots and other nightmares ensconced in Hollywood memes.

A poster hung up by an employee inside the Google Advanced Technologies and Projects Lab(Photograph by Anthony C. LoBaido)

A poster hung up by an employee inside the Google Advanced Technologies and Projects Lab
(Photograph by Anthony C. LoBaido)

That said, you are not without means to fight back in cyberspace. In the micro-sense, Norton explains concrete steps you can take to protect yourself online. The Heritage Foundation weighs in here in the macro-sense. The Big Tech companies are increasingly caught in a tightrope walk between Big Government and the general public demanding accountability. Who is using our data and for what purpose? There are now calls to break up Big Tech in a manner that echoes the anti-trust modus operandi of President Theodore Roosevelt.

Humanity now stands at a crossroads. Yet we’ve been here before. There was the end of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Dark Ages. Marco Polo. Gutenberg’s revolutionary printing press. Gunpower replacing the sword. Columbus landing in Cuba. Magellan sailing around Argentina – before undertaking an open launch all the way to the Philippines. In the Philippines, Magellan met his tragic fate, while his slave Enrique and a journalist/monk named Antonio Pigafetta managed to become the first two humans to circumnavigate the globe. Laurence Bergreen’s excellent book, “Over the Edge of the World,” stands as seminal work on the latter. More recently, we’ve navigated the fall of the British Empire and the waning of the American Empire. Most Americans react to the rise of mainland China as a global force majeure with the aplomb of a medieval king tossing aside a drumstick at a Thanksgiving feast.

That said, we can enjoy the fruits of technology knowing that this continuum exists on a fragile threat. Consider the “Carrington Event” of 1859, in which a CME or “Coronal Mass Ejection” fried the high technology of that era – the telegraph. Business Insider explains here that if and when a similar solar event happens again, it might well spell doom for much of the human race. Forbes also explains how a CME near-miss in 2012 nearly sent the Earth “back into the Dark Ages.”

Which leads us to this final, salient question – how much of you will remain after the next Carrington Event – without your laptop, iPhone and every other gadget emanating from your wall socket? It is a question well worth pondering. There is you. And there is the “digital you.”

To paraphrase an old adage, who can say if forever the twain shall meet?

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(Excerpt) Read more Here | 2019-07-26 22:49:46
Image credit: source

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