Home TechnologyTimes in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
TechnologyBy Joe Burgett -

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Terminator Cyborg [Image TheWorkPrint.com]

People Still Freak Out About New Technology In The Field Of Robotics

It seems that every single time something new and exciting is released from the field of robotics, people freak out. Why is this? Some believe that robots or cyborgs will eventually take over the world by getting rid of all humans. In fact, this became such an issue at one point that some governments blocked funding for robotics research.

In fact, the United Nations met in March of 2019 and spoke about the idea of banning so-called “killer robots.” This was not the Terminator type of thing, in case you were wondering. Moreover, it had to do with lethal autonomous weapon systems. Of course, this falls under robotics and has to do with AI Robotics. Pretty much anything in this sector is loved yet hated by many.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
England’s Red Flag Act [Image via Medium]

 England’s Freak Out Over Automobiles In The 1800s

There were some who outright hated the world of automobiles when they were introduced during the Industrial Revolution. During this period, England consistently came out with impressive new technology. However, hatred for the automobile resulted in a new law called the “Red Flag Act” in the 1800s.

The law states that anytime one was going to be driven or drive, a person with a red flag had to be in front of them at all times. This law would eventually be revoked on grounds that it made no sense and literally defeated the purpose of the automobile in the first place.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Joseph Schenck & Marilyn Monroe [Image via Pinterest]

Joseph Schenck Claimed “Talking Doesn’t Belong In Pictures”

The co-founder of what would become 20th Century Fox, Joseph Schenck, was quite a player in the movie industry. 20th Century Fox was massive and Schenck became one of the most powerful and influential people in entertainment alive. Yet before all of this, he was President of United Artists Corporation.

In a statement to the New York Times, Joseph claimed in 1928 that “talking doesn’t belong in pictures.” Of course, at this time in the movie-making industry, silent movies were the trend. “Talkies” as they would be called, were beloved. Obviously, those who made their money on silent films like Schenck weren’t fans. Eventually, he’d make millions on those “talkies” he hated.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Train On Tracks [Image via Lloyd Smith/Shutterstock.com]

People Thought Trains Would Rip You Apart In 1825

People weren’t quite sure about trains in the early 1800s. In one of the biggest points where people freaked out about new technology, some assumed trains would rip people apart. The concern seemed to involve the speed at which they traveled. When Stockton-Darlington Railway opened in 1825, several insisted that trains were unsafe forms of travel.

Cultural Anthropologist Genevieve Bell claimed that critics of trains felt gruesome deaths would occur to those on board. Since no one understood how speed and force operated, the assumption was that people would just melt or limbs would fly off. At one point, people thought women’s uteruses would fly out if trains reached 50 MPH. We can safely say that none of this happened.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Y2K Phenomenon [Image via Profit_Image/Shutterstock.com]

The Infamous Y2K Phenomenon

For those unaware, people in the 1990s were freaking out about the Year 2000. It was a brand new millennium, and the assumption was, somehow, all known technology would come to an end once this new century began. There were even signs and advertisements up telling people to shut their computer off before midnight so that it would not be affected.

Some people assumed the world was going to come to an end while others thought it would become some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland that the Mad Max team could envy. Yet none of this occurred. Their fear did have some validity, however. Several of the technological clocks used in computers ended, so once they stopped there would be an issue at least partly. Yet governments around the world worked to fix this problem well before anything happened.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Google On The Computer [Image via Castleski/Shutterstock.com]

Google Is Going To Make Us Stupid

Nicolas Carr wrote an article for The Atlantic in 2008 that was simply titled: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” It was an honest question and the piece is still quite a good read. He brought up how the internet might be sapping our attention and stunting our potential reasoning in life. When you have the answer to almost anything at your fingertips by merely searching Google for it, one can easily question if people will truly want or need to learn in the traditional sense.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Google’s Corporate Office [Image via Uladzik Kryhin/Shutterstock.com]
He also brought up how this could risk the loss of people being interested in books or longer pieces of reading. To be fair to him, he is not wrong. This very website practices a shorter paragraph rule to make things easier to read, in a faster way. On top of this, book sales are not really down. However, we have seen a major rise in audiobooks where people can listen rather than read. Carr’s piece has fine points. Yet it does come off as pushing that Google could lead to bad educational values.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Man Using Wearable Technology [Image via HQuality/Shutterstock.com]

The New York Times Wrote That “Wearable Tech Could Cause Cancer”

It seems crazy how often the New York Times got things wrong regarding new technology. Before we saw the smartwatch along with more wearable technology, they claimed that smartwatches could cause cancer among other health problems. Of course, they were corrected on this by several people, including the website, Slate. For their part, the NY Times decided to amend the article.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
The Apple Smartwatch [Image via Zyabich/Shutterstock.com]
They would make several editor notes, changed the headline, and much more. The original title of the article was “Could Wearable Computers Be as Harmful as Cigarettes?” The change also led them to write that the article “went too far in suggesting any such comparison.” Smartwatches among other devices are wearable today and to the shock of no one, there has not been one bit of connection to health problems, especially cancer.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Dr. Clair Patterson [Image via California Science Weekly]

Dr. Clair Patterson’s Revolutionary Research On Leaded Gasoline’s Impact On Health

In spite of its problems, lead does present as a useful additive for numerous things. That is what led a version of it, called tetraethyllead, to be added to our gasoline. Dr. Clair Patterson noticed how lead impacted human beings back in the 1940s, but his main claim to fame was looking into the age of the Earth. He’d find the answer to this, which allowed him to become internationally famous. Patterson then decided to look into other areas of science afterward.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Actual Old Sign Used At Fuel Stations To Warn of Leaded Gasoline [Image via Lampshade/Shutterstock.com]
This led him to see the major health problems caused by lead after studying it extensively. In gasoline, it was putting harmful versions into the environment even more than gasoline already does. This newer addition to lead was in play for years until Dr. Patterson’s groundbreaking research. Today, the United States among others ban the use of leaded gas. Not just that, but his work also resulted in lead being removed from several other products too, from paint to food containers and water systems.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Graphic of Email Being Sent [Image via Golden Sikorka/Shutterstock.com]

“Email Hurts The IQ More Than Pot,” Said CNN

CNN seemed to get a lot of stuff wrong with this entire concept. Not just because there is no proven study that cannabis rots the brains of adults but that email would even make sense to do so. That did not stop them from publishing this in freaking 2005!! You’d think they’d put this out in the early 1990s maybe, but by 2005? Many believe CNN’s entire concept behind this was due to some type of pay off by Hewitt-Packard, better known as simply HP.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Mobile Email [Image via NicoElNino/Shutterstock.com]
In fact, in the article, they quote a man named David Smith who was from HP! While today we know HP for selling computers which, you know, likely sends emails a lot…that was not always the case. HP was originally better known for selling printers, and that is important to note. As this new technology, email, was not even that new by 2005. Yet HP knew the continued rise of it would result in less need to print stuff out or send letters. Leading to their likely pay-off with CNN.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Original Printing Press with Inventor Johann Gutenberg [Image via Everett Collection/Shutterstock.com]

A Swiss Biologist Was Not A Fan Of The Printing Press

Today, we know the Printing Press as one of the most important inventions in world history. Not only did it give rise to the media but it also allowed us to print books at a much faster pace. It could also be written in numerous languages in understandable and easy to read words. It used to take people years to write books, then even longer to write multiple copies of them. One would assume this revolutionary invention would be accepted by all.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Modern-Day Printing Press [Image via FUN FUN PHOTO/Shutterstock.com]
Yet this new technology was despised by Swiss Biologist Conrad Gessner during the 16th Century. He felt it would lead to an information overload, and urged monarchs to regulate the trade of books. He was quoted as saying that the public would suffer from a “confusing and harmful abundance of books.” We probably should never mention the internet to this guy, like, ever. Time Travelers, are you listening to us? Never tell Gessner about the internet!!

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Data Breach [Image via Mashka/Shutterstock.com]

Chapman University Claims People Fear Personal Information Tracking

To be honest, we can understand why there is an issue regarding the idea of public information tracking. It’s not exactly new technology as we could track information on people for decades in some form or another. Yet Chapman University conducted a survey where they asked Americans about their fears. Personal Information tracking ranked 3 & 5 respectively in America’s top technology-related fields.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Hacked Sign [Image via Kkssr/Shutterstock.com]
This could have been assisted by tech-breaches at stores like Target along with online security breaches on Facebook, both of which resulted in millions seeing their personal information stolen as well as those that had the potential for theirs to be stolen. It’s not surprising that cybersecurity has become a top priority for social media websites as well as streaming services, among many more. The study found Cyberattacks to be the #1 fear people had, so we can see how personal info tracking relates.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Google’s Self-Driving Cars [Image via TechRadar]

Self-Driving Cars Could Lead To Death, According To Many

While Google, Tesla, and many others are working on prototypes or have fully developed self-driving cars, there is still a great fear around them. We can even see why people find them to be such a threat. New technology like this is going to have problems, as self-driving cars are fully automated. This means they can be hacked or might not stop when they need to, causing possible accidents. This is not even discussing how they’ll interact with other cars that aren’t self-driving yet.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Watch Dogs Legion Self-Driving Black Cab[Image via Ubisoft]
A few studies checked into this to see how people felt about driverless cars, and it seems like it is among the most concerning new technology across ALL generations. We’re already seeing autopilot or driver-assist modes in vehicles but very few fully automated models. We are not sure if these cars can make smart life or death situations many humans could. Leading to ethical issues, such as the idea of not stopping for someone even if they are illegally crossing the road.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Inspection Drone Being Deployed [Image via Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock.com]

The Understandable Fear Of Drones

The world of Drones has become massive over the last few years. Drones were mostly an exclusive thing to the military before their commercial use became a major part of the market. They have since become a major fear worldwide, and in many ways, we can see why there is such a massive fear of them. In some nations, drones have been used to drop bombs over the years with the United States being the main nation known for doing this.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Military Drones [Image via Sibsky2016/Shutterstock.com]
On top of that, commercial or recreational drones have been abundant in America. More than one million drones are registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. While there are several laws in place regarding drones, people feel they are still a potential threat to privacy. The FAA has yet to specifically outlaw flights over residential areas. This is not even discussing the harm a falling drone could cause. New technology like drones can be awesome, but understandably threatening.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Amazon Echo [Image via Juan Ci/Shutterstock.com]

The Potential For Unwanted Home Surveillance Via TVs, Alexa, Etc.

One could be forgiven for assuming that there is a potential problem with some of our “smart” devices. There is a potential that many could be hacked due to their connection to the internet. Yet that does not mean they can all “see” anything going on, but hearing stuff? That is not only a possible threat, it has admittedly occurred with the Amazon Alexa. It’s already proven it can “eavesdrop” on conversations. Of course, the real problem with this is not that it can eavesdrop.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Amazon Echo Dot & Google Home Devices [Image via Albert Garrido/Shutterstock.com]
Rather, WHO is doing the eavesdropping. There are special applications that can be used on Google Home & the Alexa devices. Since they are controlled through voice, they easily pick up on what you’re saying. CNET found that servers for Google and Amazon were picking up convos but so were third-party types too. Even if Google and Amazon wiped their drives, we have no idea who these third-party types are. Other “smart” devices have similar issues, making many distrust them.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
The Electric Light Bulb [Image via STUDIOMAX/Shutterstock.com]

A Former U.S. President Was Afraid Of Electricity

When a new thing called “electricity” made its way into places across the United States, many felt it was a major revolutionary opportunity. You could light up entire homes using it, and we’d later find electricity in use across a multitude of fields, including other new technology. Yet when electricity made its way to the White House in Washington, D.C. it was not met with a lot of love by the U.S. President at the time, Benjamin Harrison.

Times in History When Technology Became a Threat to People
Westinghouse AC Generator, Built By Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse. [Image via Everett Collection/Shutterstock.com]
Harrison reportedly had a great fear of electricity and had the White House staff turn lights on and off because he was so afraid of potentially being electrocuted by it. He was not alone, as many also thought electricity could be used to do other evil, dastardly things. Like draw in unsuspecting children or even be used to blind people, as well as rob them. Ultimately, electricity turned out to be relatively safe but critics were not wrong to point to possible danger it could be connected to.



Sources: [The Guardian, The New York Times, Ranker, BBC, CBS News, National Institutes of Health, King’s College, The Washington Post, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Wall Street Journal, Vox, Spectator Magazine, Women And Computers, The Glasgow Herald, Electronic Frontier Foundation, History.com, Slate.com, MentalFloss.com]