Programmable Bots Are Changing How Opinions Are Formed Online
You might be aware of bots by now. Usually on Twitter, if you see a bot, they are made to help build a person’s social following. On Facebook, they tend to send us random messages. Then on YouTube, they come in the form of comments where a video could get numerous of the same types of comments. This is all a form of online propaganda and it is used by many governments, including the United States. The general goal for bots is to help shift a narrative, usually for a political purpose.
These bots are simple programs to write, as they just do rudimentary tasks, but they are drastically important online. By these bots working, they can drive algorithms to spotlight a post or video. Even if the content is 100% fake, algorithms don’t test for that and only go on popularity. Bots might then get things going, but others will see something and want to buy into it and share it around themselves. This makes bots some of the scariest technology around due to the social power they can wield.
While you might be saying that self-driving cars are not a thing right now, they most certainly are. In fact, Google has quite a few of them that they have made. Of course, they are only really used around their campus. The reason self-driving cars are not seen a lot on the roads is simply that roads have to be programmed. Relying on GPS or a satellite system is problematic so these cars would need something to follow. All you need are chips, which can be placed safely on the roads. The chips cost about a penny to produce, so it’s very cheap.
But doing this causes political issues, which is why you do not see it happening already. Even with this, there are many other social issues to consider. While it might stop at lights or wait for people to cross the street, what happens when things go wrong? What if a real-life trolley problem comes up and it needs to decide between two people. It must hit one, but who does it pick? This is why many are concerned that self-driving cars are not ready for the mainstream yet. Cars alone are dangerous but self-driving cars are some of the scariest technology of today.
What really is a “social credit system,” right? Basically, China is using this system to monitor its people and punish them for what is counts as a problem. To do this, they use specialized artificial intelligence, facial recognition, data analytics, and much more. It might seem like a weird episode of Black Mirror, but it’s a reality for the Chinese people. Obviously, China is doing it to try to further control its people. By monitoring them, they can ensure everyone complies… or else.
One’s social score can be critical and low scores could have you blacklisted from many services. Like if you comment on not liking China’s communist party, your score could decrease. If it goes down far enough, you’re banned from work opportunities, traveling, and much more. Worst of all, you’re not notified of any of this or even sent a warning. You just randomly find out when you try to do something. Clearly, this is some of the scariest technology around. We hope it never ends up here.
If you’ve ever been to a major American airport, you’ve likely come across something like this when you had to cross through the Transportation Security Administration. You might better know them as the TSA, or those people who randomly search you and all your stuff. They use 3D Body Scanners to effectively help them see if a person has something truly problematic on them or even inside them. While security is one thing, 3D body scanning has started to enter the retail market.
Various retailers are using body scanning on an experimental level. Currently, Amazon is trying to further revolutionize the shopping process, especially when it comes to clothing. They are experimenting with 3D body scanning to custom-fit clothing. But what happens to your body data Amazon or stores take? Do they store it? Get rid of it? Do they sell it to other retailers? Your body data being online for others to exploit is horrific, especially when you consider places will scan children too.
Have you ever thought you heard something but could not place what it was? How about a time when you heard something clearly but did not see anyone around to say it? Maybe you were not crazy after all. It could be that specialized technology was made to say something and put it into your mind. We know, you probably do not believe this, right? Well, we invite you to check out a company called Holosonics who makes technology to do this very thing in the name of advertising.
They invented something known as the “Audio Spotlight System.” It utilizes small speakers that focus sound into a very narrow beam. But this comes in the form of ultrasonic frequencies that humans cannot hear. However, as that sound travels from the Audio Spotlight System speakers, air will distort this sound the smaller speakers created. That will make the audio capable of hearing in a whispered or normal tone. Yet it does not travel around, so you’d need to stand in specific locations to hear it.
You might have seen specific parts of an image pixelated or perhaps an entire image. This might even happen in videos too. It is often done to hide a person’s identity or other personal information. This could be done to mask faces, license plates, addresses, etc. The great part about pixelating is that TVs cannot sharpen or enhance the image to fix the pixelated content. It does not have enough information to put the image back together in a pixelated format. Making it a perfect thing to use.
Yet researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Cornell Tech created software that is capable of seeing through intentionally pixelated images. To do this, they use neural networks or well, artificial intelligence. In fact, they are able to consistently beat YouTube’s privacy blur tool. Meaning blurring and pixelating will never protect their privacy, potentially putting many at risk. This is some of the world’s scariest technology in our book. What if it fell into the wrong hands?
Amazon’s Facial Recognition and The Prospect Of Mass Surveillance
Facial recognition systems are not easy to trust. This has become such an issue that even many phone brands have shifted from this technology as a security measure. However, Amazon introduced their version of it, called Rekognition, in late 2016 to a mixed response. While using it for Amazon’s own system made sense, they also began pitching their system to law enforcement to assist them with criminal investigations. Some took them up on it, such as the Orlando Police Department.
Many felt the system could truly help, but it offers a lot of potential problems. In fact, the American Civil Liberties Union believes it can serve as a political weapon. They feel it can be used to do mass surveillance on the public without their knowledge. The ACLU among others pushed for Amazon to stop offering Rekognition in May of 2018 on the stance that it could be abused by law enforcement. You can see why we rank it as some of the scariest technology out there today.
While the potential for 3D Printers is incredible, there are a lot of issues that can happen with them. Of course, this really all depends on the type of printer we’re discussing though. Printers have to be given a raw supply of materials to make things, which usually results in the use of cheap materials such as hard plastics. However, if you wanted to, you could supply other materials to truly make something dangerous. This became a major worry years ago when guns were being made by them. Of course, most of the early guns were not very effective, but this has changed as technology improved.
One could now print out an AR-15 style gun or an assault rifle. None of which have gone through testing, and the user has not even had a background check. This was proven to be a big problem in 2013 when a California made printed a home-made AR-15 and murdered 5 people. He was denied the opportunity to buy one due to mental health problems, so he just printed his own version. 3D printers are some of the scariest technology out there due to this type of thing being possible. 3D printers have become a lot more affordable too. What’s worse is that there are websites that show people how to print guns!
When drones were first used, they were employed by the military. They were perfect to use, as they allowed the military to survey the scene before they went in, and they could be armed to handle some of the combat to keep our boys safe. But eventually, they hit the consumer market. They were a huge hit but caused a lot of issues (such as spying on people), causing the Federal Aviation Administration to make specific rules. Everyone now has to have a license for them.
You can only fly so high and can only be a specific distance from your drone. Obviously, there is no flying in restricted territories nor anywhere aircraft is present (such as airports). Plus, you cannot fly them too close to residential areas. In spite of these rules, people can easily break them to spy on others. What makes them some of the scariest technology known is that they can still be equipped with weapons. While most consumer drones are not capable of this, you can build onto existing drones to accomplish this.
While it is true that cybernetics and other sophisticated technology will help us replace limbs, organs, and much more, things might go too far. One way this could occur is via the brain-computer interface. Currently, Neuralink is working to make a high-bandwidth, implantable, computer interface. This would allow doctors to give people their sensory and motor functions back after severe issues like strokes, car accidents, or major neurological disorders.
While that is pretty cool, it gets worse. Elon Musk wants to use this tech to hopefully enhance human brain function, allowing us to have better memory and cognitive abilities. This is due to Musk’s fear of artificial intelligence and wanting to be on the same, level playing field with them. This becomes some of the scariest technology imaginable when you consider how many threats this opens up. One could easily be hacked and this type of implant could make a person literally a walking zombie.
You might have recently used the FaceApp tech, in its free version, on your mobile device. While others just like it exists, all of it is pretty cool. Allowing you to switch faces with friends and family is a lot of fun. But FaceApp is so advanced that it could replace a person’s face on, perhaps, an adult film star’s body. Then use this to spread the “fake nudes” of a person online. On this same note, deepfakes overall can do this and much more. For example, it could be used in a racist way such as what occurred with Michelle Obama. Which could be done to anyone and cause real emotional and mental harm to them.
Beyond this, they can be used to fake something a person said. An example of this was done by the media to show former President Barack Obama on camera saying something he never said. One would assume a video would not match but deepfakes can manipulate the mouth too. This allowed Jordan Peele to do his Obama impression and say wild things while it appeared the former President was saying them. Clearly, this type of tech has the potential to cause several problems. This is why we believe it is among the scariest technology known today.
While some might assume we’d add artificial intelligence to this list, it is nowhere near advanced enough now to be considered a major threat. It might not reach the major threat level we all assume of it for a long time. Meanwhile, CRISPR and others like it are heavily improving by the day. CRISPR stands for “Clusters of Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.” In short, it is a genetic editing system. Yes, you read that correctly, genetic editing! The initial concept behind it was revolutionary! People loved the potential ability to remove possible genetic illnesses from their future child’s genetics.
You could also potentially change their possible height as well as their likeliness to be born with diabetes or autism. Yet genetic editing is not just done in a lab. As this stuff becomes more accessible or affordable, some are able to do it out of their garage. The right tech could allow a person to genetically alter themselves. We could see real-life science fiction or comic book stuff occur with this. Beyond that, it might be possible to one day give our children what would technically be superhuman abilities using this genetic editing technology. If anything, THIS makes it some of the scariest technology in the world today.