Yes, new technologies can change the way the world works, and no one can really anticipate all the changes that will result. There is a difference this time. The printing press, any new military weapon, the internal combustion engine, trains, airplanes, even early word processors, were not easy entry businesses. A company needed capital, political connections, and a big organization, sometimes a whole nation, to finance, plan and build tracks, roads, airports, weapons, and distribution systems, The need for such large infrastructures allowed for some regulations and some limitations to be put on the uses of these new technologies. There is still a great deal of discussion about how much regulation is necessary.
Many new, digital technologies, including advances in AI, can be done by a very small group of people and a $1000 computer. Some clever person, anywhere in the world, can create a computer virus that can do billions of dollars in damage. And the Collison brothers wrote seven lines of code and turned that into nine billion dollar business helping people pay for stuff on-line.
If any small group of clever people (1 person), can create all kinds of stuff that can have a major impact, it is much more difficult to put any controls on it. Technology is just a tool. People use tools to build great things, provide new knowledge, or to steal lots of money or manipulate minds.
We don’t know where we’re going and what the effects of any new tool might be. We don’t have a great deal of trust in unknown developers. We have even less trust in the people who would be the regulators. We have to learn how to think critically and pick and choose what is best for each of us.
It’s a very daunting task.