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Living in the future isn’t always so good


Step back from the modern world and take a look at the things we take for granted and you realise that we are living in a future somewhere along the sci fi end of the spectrum envisaged in the past. Some things still look a long way off (energy from nuclear fusion) or broadly infeasible (faster than light travel, teleportation) but there is plenty of modern magic around like those handsized computers so many of us carry around which not only function as communicators but have far more other functions than Kirk and his crew ever got to enjoy.

Unfortunately we also have leakage from more dystopian futures. An example is a story I saw recently on Ars Technica about the use of web cams and facial recognition software to track people down. A group in Russia took what had been intended as a ‘cool’ feature and used it to track down porn actresses. You could say that they have chosen a dangerous profession and they make a lot of money for what they produce (both, I suspect, only partially true) but it has all sorts of horrible implications. What about its potential to be used in other spheres, such as an abuser tracking down someone who is trying to escape them. Is it right for someone’s private life to be made public? And, having worked with computers for years and knowing only too well the scope for errors to creep into instructions, what about if you were publicly and falsely ‘outed’ for something you had nothing to do with?

The future is here, the future is bright and the future has shadows.

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