On June 28, 2009, there was a party at the University of Cambridge. Champagne, balloons, and hors d'oeuvres… everything was fully prepared, but not an invitation sent, and no guest came. This special party was actually held by the great physicist, also famous scientist, Stephen Hawking. He didn't send out any of the invitations until after the reception had passed, which was a critical component of the experimental design: Only those who could travel back in time would thus be able to attend. This experiment was the most famous one that proved time travelling impossible. For years, scientists have never stopped investigating the possibility of time travelling. Its existence still remains a question. But if it really exists, it would bring another ethical question worth discussion: Would time travelers enjoy knowing what their future holds? For me, I would definitely reject it, as “the meaning of life is a box of chocolates,” knowing about future would spoil the surprise, and it would cause disruption of our lives’ rhythm.
PreDP10(4) 陈亦然 Penny
Throughout our history, the fear of death has always been the worst fear of all human beings. Naturally, the pursuit to conquer death and the desire of immortality has encouraged numerous adventurers, scientists, and even kings to give away everything and seek the antidote to death, leaving us with beautiful yet tragic stories. However, nowadays, along with the advancements in biotechnology and medicine, the hopes of living forever seem higher than ever before. Although most people have expressed their delight on this issue, I have to question the true impact of immortality on the human society in aspects including social unfairness, environmental problems and the development of the society.
This idea that humans can be re-engineered brings to the third and ultimate impact of gene editing, which is entirely reforming humanity. Before, the limit of the sky is natural selection and the pace of evolution, which had greatly limited the speed in the development in the human body itself. Despite the drastic changes in the living conditions, we ourselves have actually changed very little. With gene editing, the sky is no longer the limit. Being able to edit and perfect ourselves will become the first step towards getting over nature rather than simply being governed and dominated by natural laws. We are on our ways to create spidermen, 200-year-old men, the perfect bodies, and endless fascinations that nature can never create.
…Why can’t we utilize the money that is used to invest into fraud and scams of space exploration to improve the well-beings of those underprivileged? Humans are not yet ready for space exploration.
…Those who are less economic-developed will be abandoned on earth while the rich and the elite fly off to a better planet. This is unfair.
…Countries with strong military power and technological advances will be the first to reach the planet. Others who wish to live or even come to the planet must be under their regulations. This might be the seed for dictatorship.
……When you, having been replaced by some robot in your company and having slowly drained your deposit to pay your expenses, at last get kicked out of your apartment for being unable to pay your rent, will you say that AI has made your life easier?
……Stuck in your tiny shelter, smelling like a corpse that has been dead for days and filled with paralyzing fear, will you say that AI has made your life easier?
……With so many AIs around you, capturing every word you say and everything you do, it will be a herculean task to find some peace where no one or nothing is watching. With cameras and microphones littered everywhere, how is anyone’s life going to get easier when everyone is getting uneasy?
……Third, the inherence and protection of traditional activities like chess are threatened due to the highly developed AI which simulates hundreds of thousands of probable conditions in chess and works out the solutions through trial and error. The machine learning has created the masters of strategic games. In May 27th, 2017, the AI named AlphaGo first beat human chess champion Jie Ke. It was a symbol that humankind is no longer prominent in the intelligence challenging game which hasan historyofover a thousand years. Many peopledoubtthat whetherit isnecessary to continue the learning and competition of chess because the AI can always tell us the way toward victory. Similar situations have also emerged in the field of art because according to Microsoft, its AI robot named Xiaoice can reach the ability of human painter.
Second, technology worsens the Matthew Effect which no society can escape. The Matthew Effect states, in brief, that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. While this effect will influence the society regardless, technology speeds up the process exponentially. As the rich gain access to more resources through technology, they also make more money from these new opportunities. That money again grants them more benefit from the technologies, leaving the poor sobbing over the fact that their whole life is doomed to be spent in the shadow of working aslaborfor the rich, only to make them richer and more suppressive against poor people. This endless loop can all be traced back to the presence of technology, which enables what would naturally take ages to show significance to happen in mere decades.
PreDP10(3) 张予然 Ryan
Moreover, with development of various technologies, education becomes more accessible, which will actually narrow down the social discrepancy. One of such technologies is cyber schools, supported by various technologies such as internet and mass media. According to Zhe Tong, president of Wan Men online College, “We are providing free, high-quality education for over 3 million students, at all ages.” Without technology, this could never have happened. Before the cyber schools appeared in China, many students living in the rural areas of China could not get educated. Cyber schools turned out to be a great bless for these students—both for its accessibility and affordability. By staying in homes, students who could not be educated once could now enjoy the same quality of education as those who lived in cities. Through education, these students could possibly enter a decent university and increase their social levels. Thus, by using education, technology had already and will continue to influence our society positively by eliminating the social gaps.
In summary, we are the witnesses of an era with incredible creativity. Sometimes, new technologies may face unreasonable fears such as they may exacerbate the social inequality, but when examining those fears carefully, they collapse by themselves because they may be based on some false assumptions about irrational governments, or the people who propose them deliberately neglect the invaluable benefits brought by these technologies. Facing fears, we should always be brave and confident to create and innovate; we should never, ever waste out creativity.
There is nothing permanent except change.