Beware of the Dark Side of Technology
Data apps causing anxiety; AI’s Path Leads to Toxic Molecules
I hope you've read my book, The Truth About Your Future. Yes, it’s the name of this program as well. The Truth About Your Future is a New York Times bestseller and all about exponential technologies and how it's going to revolutionize every aspect of life on our planet. The book has a chapter called The Dark Side. It's Chapter 12, The Dark Side, we have to acknowledge. Well, there are sometimes negative side effects of technological innovation. And I want to share with you two new examples of the downside, the dark side of technological breakthroughs. There are 1500 dating apps. They try to connect you with people that you'd like to meet. And increasingly, people are using these apps to find love. But now it looks like the apps are killing romance. 40 million Americans use online dating apps. Romance used to be about mystery and excitement and discovery. Now it's all about data. And with so many options available, it becomes harder to know which option is best. The apps have therefore increased anxiety around dating. It's impacting body image and self-esteem. It's also creating an addictive element as people keep searching on the apps. It's leading to dating burnout. That's one negative side effect of technological innovation.
AI’s Exploration of Toxic Molecules
And here's another one that's frankly a lot more disturbing. You know, scientists now routinely use artificial intelligence to find molecules that could one day become drugs that could be helpful in combating disease and illness. These scientists program the A.I. software to combine molecules together. The first thing they tell the computer to do is to see if this brand new combination is toxic.
If it looks safe, then they investigate further to see if there might be a health benefit like treating cancer. Researchers at a pharmaceutical company had an idea. Instead of programming the computer to find only safe combinations of molecules, they wondered, could they use it to find toxic combinations? The results were published in a new paper. And as they readily admit themselves, they were freaked out. In just 6 hours, the A.I. software generated 40,000 virtual molecules that could be used as chemical weapons. This included nerve agents, neurotoxins and an entirely set of new classes of chemical weapons. The researchers went no further. They didn't try to manufacture any of their discoveries, and they have not published a list of them, and they have not described how they programmed their A.I. computer. They just want the scientific community, as well as military and government officials, to know how easy it has become for anyone to do this. They wrote, "Our own commercial tools, as well as open source software tools that are available in the public, along with many data sets that populate public databases are available with no oversight". Yeah, as exciting as exponential technologies are, we have to admit there's a dark side. I encourage you to read Chapter 12 of The Truth About Your Future, but not right before you go to bed.