Are We the Masters or Servants?

I’ve used this blog to talk about technology and to see where technology is pushing the edges of the envelope and not just delivering a handier Twitter app. Technology continues to dazzle us. But as Arthur Clarke famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

But sometimes this “magic” has made many people wonder and filled others with fear. Few people can forget the chilling scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey: Astronauts David Bowman and Frank Poole consider disconnecting HAL’s (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer) cognitive circuits when he appears to be mistaken in reporting the presence of a fault in the spacecraft’s communications antenna. They attempt to conceal what they are saying, but are unaware that HAL can read their lips. Faced with the prospect of disconnection, HAL decides to kill the astronauts in order to protect and continue its programmed directives.

Are we still the masters of technology – or are we the servants? Movies like Ex Machina can make us wonder. Unfortunately, there is often more heat than light on the subject.


Read more in this thoughtful NYT Magazine piece here: