For some reason, geek fiction focuses on dystopia via technology. We seem to all be envisioning the coming of the techpocalypse. We imagine drones that can spy on us from great distances, virtually eliminating the concept of privacy, and robots that overthrow humankind, becoming the not so benevolent overlords of the planet.
Our fiction belies an underlying fear that technology is not something completely under our control. And if it had any human characteristics and something akin to free will, it wouldn’t be particularly kind to us.
But our lived experiences do not bear out those fears. Gadgets today are reshaping humanity in ways that utopian-based science fiction once predicted. It is increasing the quantity and quality of our lives.
Here are some of the specific ways in which technology is saving the world one gadget at a time:
Technology Is Making Us More Secure
One of the most useful things technology can do is make us safer. That is the motivations behind such companies as Notek Security and Control. One might argue that safety is the highest tech priority today. What good is perfect climate control if your life is constantly in danger?
A big part of being secure is feeling secure. Even if all is well, what you want is the peace of mind that comes from knowing all is well. Thanks to modern technology, we do not have to just take the word of a nameless person in a monitoring station in some undisclosed locale. We now have the ability to monitor our homes ourselves from the smartphones we carry with us all the time.
Naturally, this depends on having the right security provider, the right equipment, and a solid wireless network. But when all the pieces fall into place, we have the kind of security only dreamed of by our parents, and far from the dreams of our grandparents. When we are more secure, all manner of benefits become available to us.
Technology Makes the World More Accessible
Today, Microsoft is using their skills as developers to make the world more accessible to people with blindness and visual impairment. From their experimental projects comes an app called Seeing AI. It purports to be able to do things like read small snippets of text without pressing buttons or taking pictures with the camera.
Other features require more interactivity from the user. But with that interactivity comes the ability to identify faces, scan and read documents, and even describe a scene. When describing a person, it goes as far as to guess an approximate age and describe the facial and emotional expression.
These features do not all work well at this time. But it is easy to see the potential. Even now, many of the features do work and are potentially life-changing for many people with special needs. And this is just one of many applications opening a world of possibilities to people with disabilities.
Technology Is Improving Our Health
Perhaps the most promising advancement in tech is related to health and fitness. For some time, ordinary people have been able to use consumer electronics to monitor their heart rate and other vitals. We even have a whole line of specialty products for blood pressure and glucose monitoring that interact with wearable tech like the Apple Watch.
Some might even say that Apple’s ResearchKit turns iPhones into medical diagnostic devices. That may be more of an endorsement than Apple prefers at this time, as such a claim from the company would require a lot more regulatory oversight than they have right now.
That said, great strides are being made to improve the lives of those with diabetes, Parkinson’s, and other debilitating diseases, all from the gadgets we carry and wear everyday.
We have nothing to fear from androids and electric sheep, and every reason to be hopeful for a human renaissance brought on, in part, by advances in technology. Even now, our gadgets are making us safer, making the world more accessible, and providing us with longer, healthier lives. Tomorrow can’t get here soon enough. Make it so.