Biotechnology is one of the greatest advancements in human history. It’s the reason we have antibiotics.
But like with many technological breakthroughs, there is dark in the light and light in the dark.
Let’s jump right in. Who’s heard of the pigeon patrol? Feel free to look it up. With London’s dangerously high levels of pollution, pigeons have been sent to the skies to monitor air quality. Loaded with kit they fly around collecting data.
That feels familiar.
This campaign made headlines in a thinly-veiled bid to put a positive spin on biotechnological data collection. But the news story is obviously the air pollution and the danger to our health. Therefore we have the light in the dark. A small minority of good that can come from using pigeons like drones. On the flip side, biotech has essentially weaponised some insects by genetically modifying them to deliver a virus.
It’s the way we use technology which makes it controversial.
Back to the point, the most valuable resource on this planet is data. If you turn a blind eye and give it away freely you’re a pawn in society. And the view that it doesn’t singularly effect you is very shortsighted. The Cambridge Analytica exposé has already illustrated how a ‘democratic society’ can be manipulated through thought control. This has had a powerful impact on the world, from the Trump campaign to the Brexit vote.
If organisations continue to abuse private data, we enter a future under the microscope. Every decision recorded, every purchase tracked, every connection analysed in an attempt for a database to put you in a box. Behavioural data is already being used to predict your actions before you think them. Who actually supports that? Or is our culture just fully blind to the truth.
Saying this, I’m a great fan of technology. I’m not against development in the slightest. I can talk to my lights and I love that. What I don’t want is light bulbs recording my commands for an algorithm to work out my sleeping patterns.
The ultimate irony of all this, is our thirst for technological advancements is killing the planet. The pollution will be the end of us all. Excited for the release of 5G networks? Yeah cool, we’ll be able to consume more shit in less time. 5G also comes with enormous costs to infrastructure and energy requirements. That means a greater strain on resources and more destruction of the environment. Then we can send up some more pigeons to measure how fucked we are on a scale of 1 to nitrogen dioxide.
So while you go about your polluted lives, consider the dark in the light.