"Computer, make me a Cheese Pizza... now."

Born and raised in South Africa, Bianca Da Costa is a writer who currently works in the creative industry. She is a constant seeker of knowledge in life and enjoys writing on her blog in her free time. She injects her point of view through insight and a bit of humor through her writing. Today, she will be sharing with us her opinion on the advancing tech industry and what it brings forth for society and individuals today and the future. 

Details about the concept appliance, Whirlpool Fastronomy, can be found here: http://uid.umu.se/en/uid-13/projects/projects/apd/kim-risager/

As an employee at an ad agency, I am introduced to potential new clients, old clients with new products, and proposals for new clients on a daily basis. Whirlpool Corporation is an old client who was introducing new products at the time. Every week, I do a little research on Whirlpool’s competition to see if any new products have been released.

While doing this research, I am always shocked, surprised and a little dismayed at the advances that are constantly being made in the tech industry. I understand that the points of these ongoing advancements in technology are being made for the purpose of making our lives infinitely easier. If of course, you can afford it. I also believe however, that these advancements will ultimately make us a lot lazier and just possibly, a little more stupid. In theory, all this technology that thinks for you is wonderful. In reality, how mindless have we become that we need technology to think for us? Has the simple act of forming a thought become too much for our meager human brains to handle, that we need artificial intelligence to think for us? Is the simple act of getting off the couch to pre-heat the oven too taxing for us that we need the use of an app to get it done? Whirlpool, LG, and Dacor are just a few of the brands that are developing intelligent appliances that require minimal thinking on our part.

Do you remember watching science fiction movies twenty years ago? The year 2013 seemed so far off; it seemed difficult to wrap our brains around flying cars, robotic maids and palm sized cellular phones. I remember watching The Jetsons as a kid and thinking how cool it was that they had a robotic maid, a machine that could select your outfit for you, and a fully prepared hot meal at the press of a button. Similarly, the 3D food Printer in Star Trek: Next Generation seemed outrageous and to be honest, completely unappetizing. Fast forward to today, and you will learn that while 3D food printing still sounds rather unappetizing, it is currently in development by NASA for use by astronauts during space travel. I suppose that a 3D printed cheeseburger beats pureed baby food in a bag any day. Another example is Stylebook which is a system which allows you to take photos of your clothing items and upload it to their system. By doing so, it allows you to put together an outfit for you based on weather and several other variables. I have a definite appreciation for this app. Goodbye ‘fat days’ and indecisiveness.

Frivolous technology aside, I also have security concerns. I am not concerned that our lives are going to become a bad science fiction movie where our technology suddenly becomes evil and turns on us. Artificial Intelligence is created by human intelligence. It is human intelligence and humanities propensity towards greed and violence that concerns me. There are people who are both brave and stupid enough to hack into government sites. Often, those people hacking do so just to prove that they can, out of curiosities sake. Those same people, if caught are often hired by governments to use their computer skills in a productive and legal manner. There are however, the people who would use technology for nefarious purposes. A string of what has been labeled ‘smart locks’ have recently hit the home market. Locks that do not require a standard key but rather use a mobile device as the key. Goji is a company who is currently raising funds to get their smart lock to production. This smart lock is operated by a mobile app. Access can be shared to friends, family, contractors, housekeepers or others. This smart lock can be unlocked via mobile access from anywhere, at the press of a button. Having the best security system that money can buy sounds great, but it stands to reason that if a person was responsible for creating the system, then a person could also be responsible for breaking the system. Considering how easily phones are hacked, I'm not entirely sure how comfortable I would feel with my home security being in the hands of a mobile app.

There is no doubt that technology is designed to make life better. The problem is that life will only be better for those who can afford it. Having recently seen the trailer for the upcoming summer movie Elysium, I wonder if we are not destined for a similar fate. In Elysium, the rich and privileged no longer live on earth but on a planet called Elysium. The impoverished and diseased remain living on a ravaged earth. Already, there have been studies conducted on whether or not there are other habitable planets out there. With Global warming becomes a bigger issue each year and the rapid consumption of earth’s natural resources, it is not too far-fetched to imagine that we will indeed need to find a new home. Sadly, a new home on another planet costs money, lots of money. The technologies needed to build and sustain a habitable environment on a different planet costs money. The maintenance required for such a habitat would require money. Where would the money come from if not from the residence of this new world?

Perhaps I worry about technology and its implications on humanity because I don’t fully understand the benefits. Or, perhaps it’s a case of ‘the fear of the unknown’. Perhaps technology and this new technological age is simply the evolution of humanity. Something that we should embrace instead of fear. Man evolved when fire was discovered. Man evolved when the wheel was invented. Man evolved when electricity was invented. The next logical step is our technical evolution and how it can benefit us.