Where is technology leading us for our future lives?
To some degree, we can see the future developing as we watch people using their smart phones on the street and our family members using them at the dinner table or in social settings.
Eric Schmidt is the executive chairman of Google and served as CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011. Jaret Cohen is director of Google Ideas and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a member of the Director's Advisory Board at the National Counterterrorism Center.
These coauthors have a unique perspective at the center of technological development in the United States while also being heavily involved on the world scene.
According to the authors, the key technology for our developing future is the inexpensive smart phone and tablet computers. Eventually, virtually everyone in the world will have access to them. They are a blessing and a curse.
On the blessing side, people with a smart phone will be able to communicate with almost anyone. With services like Skype, we can have video conversations. We have access to a library of the world's knowledge and to education opportunities throughout the world. Personal documents can be preserved by uploading scanned versions to cloud storage sites. Online shopping and price comparisons are big conveniences.
A mixed blessing is everyone is a reporter, with the ability to upload video of good and bad events. Government documents that are supposed to be secret are "leaked," possibly threatening the lives of government agents and possibly exposing inappropriate government activities. Another mixed blessing is governments find it hard to contain rebellious posts.
On the "curse" side, governments have an unprecedented ability to locate their citizens and gather information about them. Children and adults make inappropriate posts that are very difficult to delete later. Users can't rely on providers to protect the privacy of their information and posts. Many governments screen use access to certain web sites or otherwise try to isolate or "Balkanize" their citizens' access to internet information outside their own countries. Cyberterrorism and cyberwarfare have become accepted forms of conflict among countries. Terrorist groups use social media to recruit members, often naïve youngsters, on the internet.
Drones and robots have the benefits of reducing casualties for their users but terrorize their targets when used for military purposes.
Many people may wish they could return to a simpler time, but the future is here. Let's pray we don't destroy ourselves with the awesome technological tools that we have created.
Read The New Digital Age for the big picture of our technological future.
Buy it on Amazon: The New Digital Age: Transforming Nations, Businesses, and Our Lives.
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