Remember the cartoon, The Jetsons? Man, they made the future look good. They sped around in their flying cars, had personal robots to cook and clean, skipped the elevator and took vacuum tube transport up to the top floors of the buildings, and visited the moon on vacation.
Then there was Star Trek. They didn’t even need vacuum tube transport, they simply beamed themselves wherever they wanted to go. They didn’t just video chat with their friends, they video chatted with aliens on different planets (who all miraculously spoke English, go figure). They went beyond personal robots to create an artificial intelligence and synthetic lifeform, Data. What kid wouldn’t trade in his imaginary friends for one of those?
There were also science fiction stories that didn’t paint such a pretty picture of the future, like Blade Runner, A Brave New World, and 1984. Sadly, many of those predictions have come true: extreme materialism, unfettered hyper-sexuality, pharmaceuticals to dull any blue mood — all watched over by Big Brother.
Those stories were meant to be cautionary tales, and yet no one seems to be worried. On the contrary.
People in today’s society are more than happy to hand over privacy for convenience. We bank online. We take pictures of checks and send the image over the internet to make deposits. We sign up for store discount cards, handing over all our personal information and giving permission for stores to track our every purchase, just so we can save a few bucks. Our TV viewing habits are tracked. We have cell phones that track our location; we “check in” to restaurants and snap selfies to post to Facebook and Instagram. We spend hours connected to the internet, even though we know that our e-mail is bugged and every keystroke is monitored. We post photos of our children, tell embarrassing stories about them, and sometimes let slip where they go to school. We stand outside and wave when the Google Earth car comes by our neighborhood.
We’re like the proverbial boiled frog. The water keeps getting hotter and hotter, but we choose not to notice.
How far are you willing to go?
What if you could get a barcode tattooed discreetly on your hand that would streamline all your transactions? Let’s say it would eliminate the need for photo identification, debit or credit cards, online passwords, and more. Would you do it? What about a microchip implanted under your skin? In your brain?
It’s easy to tell ourselves that’s crazy. Of course, we’d never agree to something that extreme. Because, you know, we’d never tolerate such an invasion of privacy.
Or would we?
What technology can you absolutely not do without? Where would you draw the line?