Robot Thoughts
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Robot Thoughts

How Computers are Taking Over

And how you are accepting it with a smile

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

I want you to think about that feeling of joy which invades your heart every time you buy a new product with some “smart” functionality. Maybe it even salutes you with a warm, happy “Hello!”.

Forget about your phone for a moment and look around you. Odds are you’ll be able to spot 3 or more devices which can connect to the internet, maybe a computer, some speakers, a watch… Some of you may have more subtle items, such as door locks, temperature sensors, light bulbs (maybe even your fridge?).

And you probably feel great about how they make your life easier, they help you save the most valuable resource there is… Time.

Have you thought about what you give in return?

It may seem frightening at first, but I’ll try to show you how it’ll help build a better world.

IOT (The Internet Of Things)

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Every day a new device is launched, promising to make your life easier by solving a “problem” you didn’t know you had. For some people it may seem useless, it may looks as if science is solving problems which don’t need solutions. They may be right, yet there’s more to why these smart-devices are invented… So that companies learn more about you.

Don’t you think it’s weird when you are speaking about some products with your friends and the next time you use your phone most ads show the very same product you were talking about before? This happens because new devices are designed to listen when they are “idle” (and the newer the device, the better it is at it).

We are in the information era, and as obvious as it may sound, information has become the most valuable resource. The problem is that most people don’t understand that everything is information. Information very, very valuable to governments and companies.

This is why everything is slowly being substituted by smart devices. These devices collect information about absolutely everything. And here is where most people start getting frightened.

Is my privacy fading away? Yes, and no.

To explain what is happening, let’s look at a fictional example from Westworld season 3 [don’t worry, I won’t drop any important spoiler].

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

The Rehoboam

In this tv show, society is at a point where everything is connected to the web, everything is a smart device… even humans are connected. In this fictional society, some smart brothers built an immense machine which gathers information from all these devices in the world until reaching a point where it knows everything about everyone, allowing this super-computer (called the Rehoboam) to predict and control the future of all humanity, to guide humanity towards a better/happier future.

However, some people find out about this and they discover that the Rehoboam plans some not-so-happy-endings for some people to achieve a greater good, supposedly.

This may sound familiar, after all, this has been the leitmotiv of sci-fi stories for a long, long time (even Isaac Asimov wrote about it 70 years ago in his short stories book, I, robot).

You see where the future of smart devices is heading, do you?

So… are we doomed to loose free will?

Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash

We may not be reaching a point where everything is known and decided by a machine. However, governments and companies are already attempting to develop AI (artificial intelligence) systems to predict the population’s behavior and control the existence of some events (some of these companies are Palantir, Two Sigma, and many more data science companies).

But you know Google, Facebook, and Amazon, do you? Yet I bet you don’t know how much these giants know about you. I don’t know exactly how much they know about us, but if you think about it you’ll find out (or if you use Google Analytics) you’ll find out that they know at least these things about you:

  • Age
  • Your economic level
  • Friends and family
  • The food you like
  • Your interests
  • Education level
  • Where you work
  • Where you live

And odds are they know much more than that. But most importantly there’s another detail they know about you, one you might not even know of… your tendencies.

I’m a computer systems engineer, yet I’m not an expert in AI. However, I know that one of the bases of AI is statistical programming, which is (in short words) taking data, find patterns, and use them to predict certain events.

Now imagine how much these companies could predict about you with all they know about you. And even though your behavior depends on many events external to you, remember, these companies know also about those who surround you and important events happening near you, which allows them to predict with higher precision. The more data they have, the better their predictions can be.

Pretty frightening, right?

Photo by Nathan Bingle on Unsplash

Call to action

Is there anything you can do about it?

Probably not, these companies are much bigger than any of us, and they will probably outlive all of us. However, there something you can do… be part of it!

Yes, you may be stuck with the change, but wouldn’t it be nice to know how all of these works and have a little fun with it? Did you know you can buy a computer for only $30? Pretty cheap. Imagine what you could do with that… if you knew what to do with that. You could build your own smart devices! You could solve those problems only you know about instead of waiting for someone else to solve them.

If you’re still reading you may be wondering how could you learn to do that. Believe me, it isn’t that hard. It is all done with programming. And trust me, programming isn’t just for those who study computer science (CS) or a related career, even kids can learn to code!

There are thousands of online resources to learn programming, all you have to do is google it. However, I know most of these resources are very technical and not friendly for those outside the computer science world, and this is the reason behind my project.

MY PROJECT

Everyone should be able to code, it isn’t hard, it’s mere logic. Anyone can learn to program. Then… why don’t everyone knows how to code? Because it is extremely easy to get lost.

To make it easier for everyone to learn to program I’m writing a book in which I’m teaching the basics (and some advanced concepts) of programming, some techniques to do it without getting lost, and how to apply it to your daily life to make it easier. And you can help me make it happen! All you have to do is support and/or share my Kickstarter campaign. There are multiple rewards! I invite you to check it out and help me bring quality programming education.

Here’s a link to the Kickstarter campaign.

Thanks for reading my post! I hope liked it and found it useful. I invite you to follow me for more content related to computers, technology, programming, AI, and sci-fi.

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SSAM

SSAM

I’m a computer science student and I write about programming, roleplaying games, sci-fi, movies, books, finances, and anything that comes into my mind.