November 29, 2016

Is this the real life? VR, AI and IoT

 I am the final silence
The last electrician alive
And they called me 'The Sparkle'
I was the best, I worked them all

New ways, new ways
I dream of wires

As 2016 nears an end, I wonder where we are headed?  I know these are troubling times here in the States but things are changing at an alarming rate.  But it's not the real world that I am talking about.  I wonder what lies ahead in the techno-cyberworld that we are creating.  Are we prepared for what lies ahead?

Back in October, I made the leap with the Playstation VR headset and I will have to say that I am impressed with its performance.  It has opened up a whole new dimension to gaming for me (no pun intended) but it has also made me want even more now.  I wish for more VR experiences and in a way this is a bad thing.  I am not getting lost in virtual reality but as the tech continues to grow, there will come a time where people will lose themselves in VR.
Then we have the personal digital assistants. Siri, Cortana, Echo, Pixel.  They are all there in the background, listening, learning, growing as we feed them.  When does the machine actual take on a persona of its own.  Can it actually become aware of itself and if it does, what will it do?

We opened doors by thinking
We went to sleep by dialing 'O'
We drove to work by proxy
I plugged my wife in, just for show

New ways, new ways
I dream of wires

Scientists are making great strides in robotics and have even made some that are lifelike but they all have limitations.  But with the leaps in artificial intelligence (AI), how long before we can no longer distinguish the fake from the real? What if the TV show Westworld is not as much fantasy/sci-fi as it is a prophecy? Maybe it is a sign of things to come years from now.  Maybe its already here and we don't know it.

What happens when we combine all of these things together? When VR, AI and the robotics combine, are we faced with The Matrix? Is it like in the movie The Terminator? Or are we headed to a dystopian future like we saw in The Blade Runner?  Whatever happens, we are not safe.  Not then and not even now.
We look at technology as a benefit and a luxury to aid us in our everyday lives but it is already coming back to hurt us. The "internet of things" was designed to allow us to interconnect our lives easily with our environment.  It gives us control over our TVs, lights, radios, smart homes, etc.  But it was these very common items, such as routers, webcams and smart TVs, that were connected through the "internet of things" that allowed hackers to launch perhaps the largest botnet DDoS attack in US history this past October.  The very "tools" we use to make our lives easier or more enjoyable were used against us and crippled the internet and several major corporations.  It happened once and will definitely happen again. Will we be prepared next time? No. Did we learn from this last time? No. 

So I press 'C' for 'comfort'
I dream of wires, the old days

New ways, new ways
I dream of wires

So what's the answer? Unplug it all and go back to the "dark ages" of pen and paper? Of course not. Although I still write stuff down and have notebooks of writings, I AM a champion of technology.  I look forward to the latest updated tech but I also know that it needs to be used cautiously.  Don't get caught up in the hype and get lost in the cyber-world that we are creating.  Hold on to your soul! Unplug once in a while so that you don't get reduced to bits and bytes. After all, you are more than just ones and zeros!

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