Tech Seems to be Slowly Turning Humanity Into the Borg

Tuesday, 29 August 2017 - 7:55PM
Artificial Intelligence
Gadgets
Weird Science
Tuesday, 29 August 2017 - 7:55PM
Tech Seems to be Slowly Turning Humanity Into the Borg
CBS

In the Star Trek universe, the Borg is a group of alien cyborgs linked together via the collective hive mind, or "the Hive." They are a nefarious bunch and tend to use this collective knowledge and functionality to wreak havoc for other species and, especially, the Starship Enterprise.

Now, it might not seem, at first glance, that we Earthly humans have much in common with this fictitious bunch, but as science fiction and science edge closer and closer together, it seems as though we might. In a recent piece in Technology Review, David Byrne (yes, the Talking Heads frontman) discussed how progressing technology is not only decreasing human interaction, but changing who we are and how we function as humans.

It is no secret that our constant access to social media and technology through our smartphones has seemingly sparked a change in how we behave and interact. But factor this screen-attention in with self-driving cars, streaming services (eliminating the interaction of video and record shops), ride-hailing apps (eliminating the interactions of public transportation), automated checkouts at pharmacies, grocery stores, and even restaurants, AI tech that can create and make decisions often better than humans, robotic "assistants" like Alexa, virtual reality, and so on and so forth.

There seems to be an endless list of emerging technologies that continue to chip away at the daily interactions once taken for granted, however small or large.

Image Credit: the rabbit / flickr


So how does this turn us into the Borg? Well, we are all connected by a seemingly unified collective: social media. And, while we are all individuals, we all function through a common network, keeping us in constant contact and communication. It might seem like a far stretch that we might lose our humanity in such a situation, but if Captain Jean-Luc Picard can fall prey to the power of the Collective, then it is easy to think that we might also.

As we disconnect from each other it is possible that empathy, a learned trait, will change. A connected, less-than-empathetic species that prides itself on conquering, efficiency, and success above all sounds all too familiar. This comparison becomes even tighter when you factor in the burgeoning field of cybernetics. Experts like Elon Musk have stated that, if we are to progress and survive as a species, we will have to become cyborgs.

This could be true, and so it is important to remember that, while technological progress is important and positive, we must not forget our humanity and the importance of interaction; lest we become the Borg.

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