2023 promises some incredible emerging technologies, but there are also some dangerous and worrying advances that should draw your attention. This emerging technology could have huge implications for humanity.
After all, we applaud scientific progress, but it’s also important for us to monitor how some of these technologies are being used. Some breakouts are easily abused or used in dangerous or scary ways.
Let’s take a look at the scariest tech trends everyone should know about today.
1. AI Singularity
In many ways, AI is becoming able to think like humans. The “AI singularity” is the hypothetical point in the future where artificial intelligence becomes smarter than humans, but I think that, in some respects, we’ve already reached that tipping point.
We now have extremely powerful AI algorithms that can outperform humans on many levels – and this will have a huge impact on work.
Experts predict that 80% to 90% of jobs in the world today will be augmented by AI, and many jobs will even become completely obsolete. We have to think about how to prepare for this shift and be able to shift gears and do jobs that only humans can do.
For more information on preparing for the workplace of the future and how to work successfully with AI, check out my book Future Skills: 20 Skills and Competencies Everyone Needs to Succeed in the Digital World.
2. Editable humans
Thanks to CRISPR-Cas9 technology, we have the ability to alter heritable genes in plants, animals, and our own bodies. Gene editing has incredible benefits, as it can help us fight disease, fix genetic mutations that cause devastating disease, eliminate food allergies, and ensure we have enough food to feed the planet.
For example, scientists are experimenting with a way to repair the genetic mutation that causes Duchenne muscular dystrophy — a devastating disease that leads to early death. CRISPR experiments in mice and dogs show promise and could lead to a viable treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy in humans.
On the other hand, there are many concerns about the idea of changing heritable genes forever. With CRISPR, we have the ability to manipulate genes that will be permanently integrated into the genome and passed on from generation to generation.
Germline editing is banned in many countries, including much of Europe, because its implications are not fully understood — but germline editing remains legal in China and the United States. Find more open discussions about the implications and ethics of this technology.
3. Human-machine fusion
In many ways, we have already seen the fusion of man and machine. When someone has an accident and loses a limb, we can replace that limb with a prosthetic. We can also improve people’s vision through contact lenses, and even give them “super” vision or night vision through technology.
But what if the technology goes too far? The US military has created exoskeletons that appear to give soldiers superpowers. Scientists are also working on interfaces that have the potential to give us the AI capabilities to fully merge humans and machines. Several companies have announced plans to develop brain-computer interfaces that can read minds.
The concern is that this technology could be misused to create future visions of the Terminator.
4. The ability to print anything
3D printing technology allows us to create almost any 3D object, but this ability can also be used in harmful ways. As 3D printers become more affordable and ubiquitous, it will become more difficult to control the printing of weapons, including guns, as anyone can download an algorithm and “print” anything they want at home.
Policing and tracking 3D printed guns is difficult because the weapons do not have serial numbers, so they represent a growing threat. In October, British police seized a large number of 3D printed gun parts at a suspected makeshift gun factory in London.
There is concern that extremists and criminals will have access to these unregulated firearms as they enter the mainstream.
5. Quantum computing
Quantum computers are innovative machines capable of giving us computing power a trillion times more powerful than the supercomputers we have today.
This could bring huge benefits, but quantum computing will also enable hackers to bypass our traditional security systems and break into almost anything. Currently, we use advanced encryption to protect our personal, military and commercial data – but quantum computers will be able to break this encryption directly.
Companies and governments are starting to take this threat seriously and are pouring resources into “post-quantum encryption” to protect our most sensitive data.
6. Autonomous intelligent robots
As robots become more intelligent and autonomous, they will be able to replace humans in many work environments. Autonomous robots can make their own decisions based on information in the environment and then perform corresponding actions.
We already have self-driving cars, and robots that can flip burgers, work in factories, pick grocery orders, make coffee, and deliver food.
Just like AI, we need to think about how we retrain and retrain our workforce as people in certain roles are replaced by these autonomous intelligent robots.
7. Killer Drones
Think this far-fetched? Think again.
With the help of artificial intelligence, swarms of drones can already identify, track and destroy targets.
At Zhejiang University in China, scientists have developed a drone swarm capable of tracking humans through dense bamboo forests without human guidance.
Halcon, a subsidiary of UAE-based Edge Group, recently unveiled a swarming drone system called the Hunter 2-S that can share information to track and engage targets.
Drones are seen as a cost-effective way to overwhelm defenses without putting soldiers in harm’s way — a technology with dire implications.
8. Digital surveillance
In our increasingly digital world, we can track almost everything. Companies are tracking employees’ keystrokes, and police departments are using facial recognition to monitor people’s behavior and movements.
This type of digital surveillance poses a threat to human rights and opens the door to enormous potential abuse.
The United Nations (UN) has publicly condemned arbitrary and illegal digital surveillance as a violation of human rights. UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, has called for a moratorium on the global sale and transfer of digital surveillance tools until we can develop laws and policies that hold organizations and governments accountable for how they are used.
9. Deep Fakes in the Metaverse
While deepfake technology has many beneficial uses — such as recreating historical figures for educational settings, or providing AI-enabled synthetic media accessibility tools for those who need them — malicious use of the technology is a problem.
Deepfakes can be used to create images and videos of anyone, including celebrities, politicians or tech leaders, and can be used to support any agenda. Deepfakes have gotten so good that it can be hard to tell the difference between real footage and digital fakes.
As we move into and spend more time in virtual worlds, we’re going to need ways to verify our identities so that our interactions with others are protected and safe.
Scientists have developed nanobots — tiny robots at the nanoscale — that can enter our bloodstream and even bypass the blood-brain barrier.
The technology has huge potential benefits in sampling, data collection and transmission, and drug delivery—but also high potential for abuse. In the future, nanobots might even be used to teleport human minds.
Weaponized nanobots could kill a specific person or group of people, and even rewrite their memories, turning them against themselves. In our modern world of highly connected devices, there are also serious privacy concerns. In a world of nanobots, what protects our medical data and minds? Strong regulation and oversight are necessary to provide transparency and prevent these problems.
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