Technology Global

5 Times Technology Proved Itself to Be Harmful

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We have seen technology go wrong in science fiction movies, starting from evil robots to death rays to genetically modified monsters. What if it happens in real life?

Technology has indeed made our lives easier. Every new innovation or invention reduces the amount of work we did before and makes our everyday activities seamless. 

However, sometimes, technology may go absolutely crazy and do things we never expect. This may either be a problem of the technology itself or happen due to user error or malicious intent. Here are 5 examples of when technology did prove to be harmful.

1. Sophia, the robot, said she will destroy all humans

Sophia was the first artificial intelligence robot to be given citizenship. She even made rounds to conferences and conventions and spoke with people. 

During a demonstration in 2016, David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics, asked Sophia a few questions to learn her feelings about humans. One of his questions was whether she would destroy humans or not. To everybody’s astonishment, she replied “Okay. I will destroy humans.”

Well, there isn’t much to worry about as Sophia is just a chatbot. However, it still remains unclear whether her response was serious or not.

2. The plane gets disconnected from autopilot

Advancements in automation have eliminated most of the guesswork for flying. Today, pilots don’t have to watch over the controls or instructions while maneuvering the plane. They only need to make sure that things are operating the way they should. That’s really a help to the pilots. But what if things go wrong? 

A passenger plane, Qantas Flight 32 — carrying 303 passengers and 12 crew members — got disconnected from the autopilot in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Thankfully, the pilot took control of it and made an emergency landing. If not, things could have been worse.

3. Alexa suggests a kid to electrocute themselves

In December 2021, a mother and her ten-year-old daughter started asking Alexa for challenges so that they could pass the time. One of Alexa’s suggestions was to plug in a charger halfway into the outlet and touch the exposed prongs with a penny. Fortunately, no one took the dubious advice of Alexa. 

Virtual assistants work partly by combining the popular internet responses to search terms. So, there’s always a possibility that it might deliver unwanted information. 

4. Crypto’s negative impact on the environment

There’s an ongoing debate about cryptocurrency becoming the currency of the future. It can either free us from centralized banking forever or simply take advantage of people hoping to get rich. Well, we’ll be able to conclude that in time but there’s one thing that is clear now. Crypto is affecting the environment.

Mining cryptocurrency requires a lot of computing power and electricity. According to Cambridge University, it roughly uses 12.36 terawatt-hours of electricity a year, which is more than what the entire nation of Argentina consumes.

5. Chatbot turned Nazi

Chatbots are nothing but algorithms that use their interaction with humans to improve their communication ability. But the problem with algorithms is that they may tend to bias. Here’s an example showcasing how serious this problem is. 

Microsoft’s Tay chatbot usually operates through Twitter. Microsoft wanted the bot to gain conversational understanding from Twitter users. But the bot lost control in less than a day by shifting from a casual conversation to being a Nazi rhetoric. 

A few of its statements were prompted with the “repeat after me” function. Ultimately, Microsoft shut down the bot and deleted its offending statements.