“Star Fleet” symbol. Illustration: Jesper Hansen. Source: Wikimedia
People have always been both captivated and challenged by technology. Like many, I grew up watching Star Trek on television, thrilling as Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise explored “strange new worlds.” Science fiction allows us to imagine the potential gifts of new knowledge: faster-than-light travel, teleporting, food-synthesis. The possibilities are endless.
But there are always problems. Fire burns. Klingons declare war on humans. There’s trouble with tribbles. In the late 19th century, displaced workers threw their wooden shoes, sabots, into machinery to stop it. They were the first “saboteurs.” In our day, we give up our privacy to get new smart-phone apps, and self-driving vehicles could put drivers out of work.
An extreme example of these fears is concern over a “singularity,” the point where computers may become self-aware and super-intelligent, radically changing civilization. There’s even a “Singularity Summit” every year to discuss the implications. Some think a singularity is possible in just a few years.
Source: Max Pixel. CC0.
Technology’s problems are everyone’s problems. Tools that help us gather food can also be used as weapons. “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards,” the book of Job says. But there’s always something new. Our minds are infinite in their capacity to imagine. Our ideas must always be tempered, though, by our core human values: freedom, justice, respect, and love.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Charter Trust Company
“The Best Trust Company in New England”