In the past year, nearly every professional smart guy has come forward to express concerns about the impending robot apocalypse. Bill Gates pondered why humanity isn't more concerned about this inevitability, Stephen Hawking called robots "the end of the human race," and Elon Musk even compared creating A.I. to "summoning the demon," although perhaps more alarming than Musk's warning was his decision to use the definite article, "the," which suggests that he has a specific demon in mind. The idea of humanity being taken over by soulless automatons has even re-emerged in popular culture, from the impending Age of Ultron to Magic Mike XXL's chilling depiction of chiseled metal beasts welding their dicks into more aerodynamic shapes for maximum table-dancing efficiency.
But fret not -- as per my own calculations, the future will not be brimming with radioactive rat-spits, skull piles will not become the standard unit of measurement, and we will have no need to teach our German shepherds to detect the scent of flesh-masked metal. There's still totally going to be a robot apocalypse. It's just going to be way lazier than that.
#4. "Smarthomes" Will Turn Your Life Into an Orwellian Fantasy
People are surprisingly unconcerned with the meager amount of privacy still afforded them these days. Sure, we complain about Facebook stealing all our information -- but we're not worried enough to actually stop using Facebook on account of it being a totally free service that lets you connect with family and send drunken threats to employers and co-workers.
In the end, we're more than willing to give up some personal secrets in exchange for an otherwise free convenience. And since Facebook knows only as much as we're willing to tell it, it's not like Mark Zuckerberg is personally breaking into our houses and going through the refrigerator or something ...
"Just milk. OJ? You're on your own, asshole."
Oh, right. We're calling things like this demon refrigerator the "Internet of things," and it's referring to the slow transition between the primordial landscape we currently inhabit wherein we don't get any kind of text message when our Pop-Tarts are ready and the bright horizon of tomorrow-year. Soon, entire neighborhoods will be beacons of connectivity and convenience as we turn our homes into living Epcot Center attractions. And while I can't say I'm against the prospect of switching my home to sex-lighting at the touch of a button, this smarthome of the future is really only as good as it is private. And if the current state of the Internet is any indication, our smarthomes will be about as private as ... whatever. Choose your analogy. It doesn't matter. Everything you do online can be seen by millions of people, and I installed that sex-lighting for me.
Check out this headline:
"I got some summer sausage you can feast on. Maybe share with the family ..."
That's from last year, when over 100,000 everyday items were used to send spam emails by hackers. An array of smarthome devices were introduced in 2014, and we saw every single one of those gadgets get easily compromised through hacking. From tea kettles and toasters to fucking alarm systems and defibrillators, the moment we connect an item to the abyss of the web is the moment we create yet one more way that item can either break or be used to spy on our every intimate moment. How intimate? Intimate enough that there's a shady Russian website with over 4,500 hijacked feeds from baby monitor cameras, thanks to the devices' built-in WiFi connectivity. And that's the exchange: We can enjoy watching our young from smartphones, just so long as we're also cool with some Central European dude watching us read them All the Pretty Little Horses before bedtime. And masturbating. There's no way he isn't masturbating.
It's just soccer ... for now. Next time it could be something you actually give a shit about.
It's gotten so bad that there are now reports of ads taking over half the screen every 20 to 30 minutes. It all points to a future 10 years down the line, when our need for convenience and "smart" devices will slow entire neighborhoods down to a standstill thanks to hackers and advertisers.
And speaking of monumental standstills ...
#3. Driverless Cars Could Actually Make Traffic Slower
Self-driving cars are an attractive piece of emergent technology, because hands down the absolute peak of human accomplishment is the ability to legally ram Scotch while captaining a vehicle going 80 mph toward your nephew's christening event. Now, with the power of technological mega-corporations, we're finally at the dawn of the era of automated cars. The only problem is that they look like baby koala bears watching their parents fuck.
But that's not so bad, right? Slow down, future child. For argument's sake, let's assume that Google and Apple and whoever else gets past all the glaring legal and technological hurdles still holding us back from automated cars, and 2020 is a year when all the major cities and towns are filled exclusively with driverless pods perfectly weaving past each other like data through a computer. Those cars would be legally obligated to transport human commanders at a safe rate of speed, right? This would also mean that more people would be on the roads, because valid licenses and sobriety would no longer be an issue. Ultimately, this combination would actually lead to worse traffic than ever before.
Soon they'll have to put Fast in scare quotes.
Seriously. A recent simulation from Imperial College London discovered that when you turn every car on the road into an automated people-carrier, you also eliminate behaviors like breakneck pedal-stomping at green lights and dickface maneuvering at high speeds. And while this might save a bunch of stupid lives or whatever, it would do so in exchange for turning every roadway into the opening shot from Terminator 2. I am of course referring to the shot of the sun blazing down on endless lines of L.A. traffic.
So basically, we'd be exchanging efficient travel for the luxury of nodding off during our morning commute. And that's the motif here: Every recent advancement we've been pursuing has to do with forfeiting responsibility in exchange for convenience. To reflect the proud, brawny sentiment of Will Smith in the modern classic I, Robot, removing drivers simply takes the piss out of humanity.
20th Century Fox
Will Smith is truly the Nostradamus of our time.