(Original air date: 2/23/20)
The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
Here on Full Measure, we love to examine technology and the future of what’s possible. It always seems to come with a mix of excitement and concern...as Daniel Gerstein makes very clear in his book: “The story of technology, how we got here and what the future holds.”
Sharyl: What is the future of technology?
Daniel Gerstein: Well, I have a mix of a great excitement and some trepidation, and that is because I think that technology today just gives us extraordinary capacities that we didn't have, but it also is now allowing us to manipulate the very essence of life, and it's changing the way we interact with each other with between nations, between governments.
Sharyl: Will technology change, do you think, what it means to be human?
Daniel Gerstein: I think that is exactly what's happening with biotechnology. We have learned how to manipulate the DNA very effectively. We know only the functioning of about one and a half percent of those. But imagine when we're able to understand all of the interactions, we would be able to dramatically alter the essence of life.
Sharyl: Most people would say, I think, that they would see implications from manipulating DNA if it made us healthier or better. But the question is what is better? And where's the line drawn?
Daniel Gerstein: So if you were to ask a mother if she wanted her child to be born with some inheritable disease that could easily be cured, you'd almost unanimously get people saying, Oh, absolutely, we should cure that child. But the real question is, what happens when you begin to preferentially change DNA? I want blue eyes. I want to be tall. I want to be a have super human strength. Those sorts of manipulations could be possible in the future.
Sharyl: What about the military applications? Is there a time when you could see us fighting Wars almost exclusively with drones now perhaps, but then robots and other things that have nothing to do with humans? And then is that better or worse?
Daniel Gerstein: My concern about the complete automation of the battlefield using artificial intelligence is it takes the human dynamic out of the equation. And with that, I wonder if perhaps we make war too easy to fight if we reduce our human costs.
Sharyl: What is the “internet of things” in simple terms?
Daniel Gerstein: I monitor my houses with cameras. I can open doors, I can turn on lights. All of those can be done using the internet of things. I think there are a lot of implications that people haven't even started talking about yet. First is we are losing our privacy in leaps and bounds. We have devices or we have software on there such as Siri and Alexa, which are listening to what we're saying. They are deciding what our preferences are. And if we say something and Siri picks it up, then we could be getting, would you like to buy this?
Sharyl: Let's say you're having a private discussion about a health issue and somehow your conversation is picked up and a decision is made unbeknownst to you about you because of that.
Daniel Gerstein: Yes. And let's take it one step further. Perhaps you're not being selected for a job because they have picked up that you have a temper or they believe you have a temper because you had an outburst. And so, you know, how we monitor ourselves or handle ourselves in both in public and private will certainly be affected by this internet of things.
Sharyl: What do you see as ways we can avoid those dark views?
Daniel Gerstein: We have to think about what are those categories of technologies, or activities with technologies that we should not become involved in. And with the abilities with bio technology and the internet of things and artificial intelligence, our ability as humans to really manipulate our environment and change the human experience is something that we at least need to consider before marching off into the abyss.
An Israeli company has just announced approval of its new technology that detects early-stage cancer by ‘navigating’ inside the lungs.
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