Humans vs Robots: Technological Advancement or Human Replacement?

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It has to be faster today; then tomorrow, it is too slow. What is enough? How much faster is fast enough? Our world today is a technological bubble. But not just any old technology; electronic technology. Technology is anything that makes it easier to do stuff. Straight forward definition. When the wheel was invented in 3500 B.C., it was one of the most revolutionary forms of technology ever conceived, that it was almost seen by some as, “of the darkness”. The stool and its consequent modifications from 3 legs to 4 legs, addition of the backrest, reinvention as the chair, addition of armrests, making the armchair, are all forms of technology. Technology doesn’t have to be electronic, though these days it is more commonly associated with that sector.

Do not misunderstand me. I am, in no way, anti-technology. I like “easy” just as much as the next guy. I like the idea of finding better ways to achieve goals and accomplish tasks; working smarter, rather than harder. I like the fact that I can think of something I am trying to find, and get on Google, and search for it in an instant, just like some of the facts used in this article.

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But at what point does “convenience” become simple plain “laziness“; and just how much are we willing to sacrifice or lose in the name of an easier life? What if an easier life ultimately meant giving up our freedom and surreptitiously slipping back into slavery, bondage, and un-detected imprisonment at the hands of the very thing built to provide that easier life? It sounds like the plot out of a science fiction movie, right? But think about it. Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is already here, and getting into high gear in many sectors, in many cities around the world (predominantly Asia).

When do we start asking questions like “What’s the catch?”, “Where’s the stick to this carrot?” and “What do I lose, in order to gain this?” Is the idea of technology getting so aware that it begins to think outside the parameters of its code, so far-fetched and ludicrous, that we shouldn’t pause and think? Shouldn’t there be a limit to just how much interface there is between man (human operations) and electronic technology? Are we so consumed with our ability to do something that we have lost the respect of life, required, to ask whether we should do that something? Okay, I am starting to sound like an anti-technology conspiracy theorist (I promise you, I am not), so permit me to backtrack and readjust my approach. Consider the payment transition of retail trade services over the past 15 years. We went from cash to ATM machines, then came P.O.S machines, and ONLINE Banking – first on website platforms, and then on Apps. And the transition has been amazing – plus or minus, the glitches with the cashless society agenda, which are a derivative of the fundamental problems of the Nation. These electronic technologies made banking easier, and were welcome, not wholeheartedly by everyone, but welcome nonetheless.

But it has not all been peaches and roses, both for banking and other sectors. Where do we draw the line? In some cities of the world, payment for goods and services has moved from plastic (cards) to barcodes; you just have to swipe your phone across a screen-reader and payment is made. It is now just too much trouble to reach for your card and use the P.O.S terminal. With the introduction of 5G, you can now have your face scanned (Alibaba already has the “smile-to-pay” service, Alipay) at a store, and details of your account read so that you can pick what you want, walk out, and an automated system debits your account for the value of the item(s). Sounds scary?

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Or sounds amazing? It can be either.

So, at what point does convenience become detrimental to our security and freedom? What happens when that same system decides (glitch or deliberately) to negatively alter your life digitally?

Let’s think and ask, “What is the Trade-off?”

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