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January 16, 2017

Privacy versus connection: Have we surrendered our lives to the internet?

Imagine the wealth of information you have already uploaded online: photos, game preferences, personal milestones, job information, relationships, and even favorites and dislikes. Now, imagine all of that data being collated and processed to create a likeness of you – a virtual, but very accurate, version of you.

matrix
So very Matrix-ish, eh?

Sounds like science fiction, but in an article written by Jules Verne entitled In The Year 2889, he described technology that did not exist until after a few decades (more of his writing that came true here). Prophetic as his writing was, it was all, once upon a time, science fiction.

When life imitates art through tech

A lot of the things we now take for granted used to be science fiction: video chat, touchscreen, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS. It might just be a matter of time before what we deem technologically impossible becomes part of our reality.

mind blown
Me, whenever I realize that much of our tech was inspired by Star Trek.

Is it possible to upload ourselves – or at least our consciousness – to a system that can create an autonomous program capable of making the same decisions (and even having the same personality quirks, down to your dislike of broccoli) as you?

Intrusive apps: scary or necessary?

Android and Apple users can download virtual assistant apps that follow instructions, schedule meetings, and even crack jokes. These apps, although still incapable of understanding the more complex nuances of language, can be considered a huge step towards the ultimate upload: sharing your entire consciousness with a computer that becomes a v2.0 of your mind.

Is there a computer out there that knows so much more about you than you do? Considering how we allow our apps to access all our virtual information, that is not at all impossible.

Imagine an app that acts, talks, and even curses like you, an app that will immortalize you by continuing to exist way after your inevitable death. The app can be your virtual replacement, greeting your friends the way you would, and even reacting to events that were yet to happen the way you probably would if you were still alive.

Technology has improved in leaps and bounds that we now have more questions than answers about where it is headed. Will we still call intelligence artificial if it effectively simulates our own?

We can get our tech fix every single day, thanks to the many gadgets that help us run our lives. If you want more (and if you find all this oh-we-are-doomed-by-tech discussion riveting), you might want to watch Black Mirror (sci-fi series, via Netflix) and Dark Net (documentary series, via Showtime), both of which I just love.

Our data is already online, probably already part of some big data pool being used for research or surveillance. We have, in effect, surrendered our privacy in exchange for convenience and connection…

inernet addict… Just like this poor social-media-addicted kitty.

So, if there was an app that could study – and eventually become – you, would you be willing to use it?

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