Sci-fi has been humanity’s greatest source of inspiration for centuries. Everything the writers thought would be a cool instrument or technology to have in the future was carefully written down and incorporated in various stories. Many of those writers were chemists and scientists of all sorts, so the things they wrote about were not completely impossible. In fact, many of the gadgets and gismos described in books were created a few dozen years later. And with the way technological progress has sped up during the last few years, any unbelievable thing you can think of today can become the reality of tomorrow. Yet there are technologies that are so dangerous that even modern humans won’t be able to contain them. They might be more harmful than helpful. Here are 8 sci-fi technologies we should stay away from.
Nanotechnology can be as deadly as any other kind of weapon. While it’s a great instrument in terms of healing, growing body parts, organs, and whatnot, nanobots can also be used to wipe out whole cities as there would be literally no cure that would stop this ‘plague of locusts’. One mistake is all it takes to transform the ultimate weapon into a means of world destruction. Self-replicating nanobots are virtually indestructible – they can’t be bombed, shot at, or captured. If they get out of hand – the whole world is doomed.
The whole idea isn’t new, not by a long shot. Back in 1948 John von Neumann came up with the idea of a machine that could use raw materials to build a copy of itself and then upload its own programming into the new body (very Matrix-esque if you want our opinion). Of course, creating such a technology would be very beneficial in terms of its cheap production, all you need to do is thoroughly think over the original, and the machine will do the rest of the work. Nevertheless, it’s really dangerous to give control over mass-production of any kind of machine to another machine. So many things could go wrong there! Even if the machines themselves are harmless, when there are too many of them it would cause an immense consumption of resources. Ultimately, the whole world could be taken over by machines!
All sci-fi trends tend to agree on one thing – there will be intergalactic travel in the future. In order to travel further than our Solar System, we’ll need to somehow figure out the whole traveling faster than the speed of light thing. While in linear space FTL travel seems to be impossible, a warp drive would probably solve most of our traveling problems by bending time around the ship and literally bringing the needed destination to us, not vice versa. Scientists believe it might be possible to create a warp drive someday, but there is one small problem. When using a warp drive, special high energy particles get caught up in its field. It won’t impede the traveling process, but upon arrival, those particles will be released along with a crazy amount of energy that could wipe up whole star systems and even create a black hole. Not the most peaceful way to travel.
Automated War Drones
What happens when warfare gets devoid of the infamous human factor? Nothing good, that’s for sure. While it may seem nice to not put people out there to make all the complex judgment calls during battle, the truth is that no machine would ever be able to do the same. All people make mistakes – that’s something that a machine won’t understand, at least not in the nearest future, it will just execute the order, no questions asked. The story’s different with automated war drones that don’t even need human supervision once the target is set. If anything goes wrong, who will be held responsible? And if those machines will become the main means of warfare (although we by no account want any warfare to happen at all) then imagine just how many soulless machines will be thrown into battle and what disastrous consequences such battles would have on the environment and the civilians caught in the crossfire.
Scientists and sci-fi writers like to talk about creating virtual reality and all the possibilities that come with it. They mostly speculate about having fun, playing games, engaging in virtual relationships and going on exotic vacations without leaving the city. What we rarely think about is that virtual reality can be used to imprison people, both convicted criminals and innocent ones (because once this kind of technology is out, it’s out for everyone). People would experience the most horrifying moments, months or even years in mere seconds. Although such tech could be used for the greater good of mankind, it could also become one of the most powerful weapons and interrogation techniques that could drive people crazy.
Gene Sequencing for Pathogens
There’s nothing you can’t find on the Internet these days, even a published paper on how to make mutant bird flu! Various studies of human and non-human DNA are supposed to give us a broader and deeper understanding of how things work, but tempering with genomes could lead to huge problems, especially when we start altering the genomes of pathogens. This is probably one of the most widely-used Apocalypse scenarios, and for a very good reason. One genetically altered virus could wipe out the human race! And while it’s true that we should study just about everything, however deadly, but maybe it’s not such a good idea to publish those results online.
Scientists believe that this kind of technology will be available in 20 years or so, which is not that far away. Mind-to-mind communication can be a great thing, but it will also make humans more vulnerable. If you open up your brain to communicate with another person, it also means that you make it accessible to people with darker motives. Think about spam, ads, altering emotions and memories. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! If you have a chip installed in your brain, there’s high possibility that it could be hacked because that’s just what people do. Imagine how much control government would gain in a situation like that! And the worst part, you might not even notice the intrusion and just wake up a totally different person one day. Welcome to the Twilight Zone!
Machines with Artificial Intelligence
We humans likes to play God, that’s just how we are wired. In the pursuit to understand the nature of consciousness (and soul as well) we are making attempts to replicate the human mind inside a machine. The idea is as fascinating as it is horrifying because the machine won’t have all those things that make us vulnerable, adequate, emotional and, well, human. The new idea is to not just create a cold-blooded machine, but to make it as human as possible with the ability to love, feel and experience the duality of its own being, however painful it may be. While it’s all cool in theory, the reality might end up looking much scarier than the idealistic dream of recreating human consciousness inside a machine. Many movies and TV shows have explored the numerous things that could go wrong along the way – starting from classics like Blade Runner and ending with the latest show West World which has taken the whole idea to an entirely new level. And if we did succeed in creating a ‘living and breathing’ thinking machine that surpassed any human being in terms of strength and intellect, wouldn’t it want to live its own life without any supervision? We’ll end up living in the world of Asimov, for better or for worse.