Letter: The race between humans and technology

Published: 06-03-2023 7:01 AM

Back in the 70s a sociology instructor at Fordham University gave us a lecture that he labeled “The Acceleration Curve.” It focused on a horizontal timeline that ran from the year zero to the mystical 2000. The vertical axis started at zero and went up in the millions represented Earth’s human population and “technology” measured by the impact of human inventions. As he demonstrated the two curves indicating human population and technology started a gradual rise along the timeline from the year zero through about 1700. It was a gradual curve meaning that humans had time to assimilate and adapt to the technologies of their times.

Then came the industrial revolution and the curve started a significant upward trend, so much so that as projection of the curve neared 2000 and beyond, it approached the vertical. This would mean that the human population could barely keep up with the accelerated rate of technological advances. Our instructor speculated on what that would mean to people, say living in the years following 2000. He smiled and said, “Guess we’ll have to wait and see how this race between humans and technology will turn out.” Well, now we have an idea, and it turns out our “prof” was a “prophet.” I initially thought that the social impact of the iphone and their rapid evolution was going to be that story, but now I see that was premature. Oh, yes, now think “AI,” artificial intelligence, Chat-bots and Chat GPT. For me, I’m lost, technology has left me in the dust. For the human race, well, one has to wonder. Something tells me that we’d best get our act together.

Charlie Stepanek

Concord

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