Enrique Dans
Published in

Enrique Dans

When it comes to technology, it’s time we all grew up

For some reason, the rapid development of technology and the fears, uncertainties and inertia it often produces leads many of us to cling on to what we are familiar with, rather than taking the time to think about things that initially seem beyond our understanding. People who understand that medicine, for example, can cure diseases that were incurable and fatal a few years ago, nevertheless sometimes have real problems in accepting that a machine can make its own decisions, or that a car can drive itself.

To these people, it doesn’t seem to matter that traditional automobile manufacturers are already testing autonomous vehicles in real traffic conditions — not technology companies, but well-known carmakers: the skeptics will reply that these tests can only be carried out under certain conditions, and that even if they do work, such cars would be of no use in mountain villages or crowded city streets. If you answer that there are companies testing cars on the streets of Indian cities, probably, according to many, the most disorganized, chaotic and chaotic traffic environment in the world, where pedestrians, cows and sometimes even elephants vie for room, they will answer that this is not possible, ignoring the fact that a machine reacts faster, better and with greater knowledge of the environment around it than a person can, thanks to the combination of previously stored information combined with data being provide in real time.

And if you then say that the most plausible scenarios predict that by 2025 there will be twenty million autonomous vehicles on the streets and highways of the world, or that before the end of this year 2017 we will have viable prototypes of autonomous flying cars, as announced by those (not exactly) crazy pranksters at Airbus, then the skeptics will look at you as if you were crazy and walk away shaking their heads and making jokes about the substances you presumably ingest or sniff.

Why do we insist on ignoring empirical evidence and instead resort to clichés when talking about technology, about advances that will drastically alter every aspect of our lives? Why, if we are mature enough to get our heads around other concepts and realities, do we seem to lack the ability to accept that things can change? Why is it that, as British science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke stated in his third law that any “sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” and is therefore treated as such? Why is a doctor who talks about the advances of medicine treated like a genius, but a technologist who talks about the future of technology is regarded as a freak? When will I greet an audience or forum prepared to accept that change is not so much fast as vertiginous, that disruption is now pretty much part of everyday life, and above all, that is possible and real?

(En español, aquí)

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