What an amazing, frightening ability we have, to develop technologies that transform our very existence in unimaginable ways. It is a power that sets humans apart from all other living creatures.
Everything that we’ve invented, from ploughs to artificial limbs, from watermills to robotic dolls, is a testament to the intelligence, the curiosity and the perseverance of our species – and our innate desire to push the boundaries of what we can achieve.
As the creators of these technologies, we are responsible for what they do and for what we enable them to do. Our modern technologies do not only satisfy desires, they create them, answering old questions and raising new ones. And as our technology becomes more sophisticated, the dilemmas we face become increasingly apparent.
There is a basic fear that we will become irrelevant, slaves to our own creations. In 2014, the late professor Stephen Hawking feared that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” At the other end of the spectrum, Ray Kurzweil, futurist and inventor, looks forward to ‘the Singularity’, when he sees humanity transcending biology and merging with machine intelligence.
At 5 we want to explore some of the great achievements – past and present – that have enabled us to go beyond our own physical or mental limitations. We also encourage an ethical debate about how far we should be willing to go, and the risks of becoming so closely interconnected that we no longer know where we stop and technology starts. Are we still in control or is that already an illusion?
Here is a selection of stories on humankind, technology and our evolving, complex relationship.
Employers are tracking us. Let’s track them back
Employers are using tech to track their employees ever more closely. Time for workers to reclaim their own data – and turn the surveillance back on their taskmasters, says Christina Colclough. Here’s what you need to know about your data, your rights, and how you can make sure they are protected.Read more