The impact of smartphones on modern society, and its future

The elegant machines we all know so well, and can’t live without. 

As we continue to move into the uncertainty of future, we seem to gradually become more and more tech-savvy, especially the younger generation. Every single day something new is happening somewhere, and thus the dynamic nature of technology continues to progress. And especially smartphones have become almost a symbol of modern identity.

Smartphones, the names were not so baselessly established after all. Previously, I had once read someone arguing about why should these devices be named such, and questions concerning what is so ‘smart’ about them. Indeed, initial smartphones were better than feature phones only in terms of processing speed, versatility of applications and specifications. But gradually, as the userbase of smartphones began to grow, the app ecosystem continued to expand at a tremendous, almost unbelievable rate, producing nifty apps to do pretty much everything digital for you. From mobile browsers capable of opening sites not having mobile versions to translators of varios kind, from the huge diversity of games to portable book-reading apps (such as Aldiko, Kobo etc) featuring thousands and thousands of books for online and offline access alike, the vast diversity of this digital ecosystem has indeed contributed to making the phones really smart.

The world continues to become more and more connected,
and the rapid growth of technology is contributing to it.

One of the major impacts of smartphones on the society has been a great increase in social networking. The likes of Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter, all were ready with their diverse, beautiful and powerful applications for smartphone access. Facebook and MySpace existed before the release of first truesmartphones, but the gist of social networking could only be felt after apps made it possible for users to update their statuses, broadcast their words, share local news and events and use those shared by others from the portability of a mobile system. Thus, the app-diversity of these tools have turned them invaluable.

And this app-diversity has contributed to the rising fame of these mobile devices, and indeed some are being hailed as life-partners now. The power of these smartphones lies in the fact that their diverse apps help us keep track of our daily lives without even knowing it. We can now safely rely on our phones to wake us up from sleep, featuring much better and sophisticated programmable alarms than old-school alarm clocks. Those nifty reminders and To-Do list apps keep on reminding us what is important and what isn’t, and we can finally de-clutter our lives without the need of an effective and organized pen-and-paper system. These tools are thus helping us stay more focused on our works, handling lesser worries themselves. For example, if I am to buy a couple of medicines tomorrow, at 5:00 PM, I can set myself a reminder, and forget about it. While it isn’t really the solution for all tasks (very important ones are to be kept in mind, still), daily jobs can indeed be nicely organized and handled by these apps.

Social networking and mobile internet availability
has turned us into a more connected lot

Another greatly positive impact of the smartphones is that, these devices have turned many people into avid readers. No longer do we require to carry all those bundles of magazines and books, or ‘stay tuned’ to catch the latest headlines, we can easily read them all on our devices. SIM-powered tablets andphablets are still better, allowing us more screen area to read our stuff. And growing internet connectivity and speed has helped us to keep in touch with the most recent updates regarding almost every sphere or field. No matter whether you’re a businessman seeking latest information on stocks and shares or a science-savvy student willing to get your hands on the latest pieces of info released by NASA, there are apps to do the work for you.

And a third major impact of these devices on the society is that, these devices are making us capable of doing more things everyday. Booking an air-ticket is no longer a problem when you’ve your smartphonewith you. Remote databases and growing digitization of various departments and elements of modern life has eased this process, thanks to networking. And this networking benefit is multiplied several times because of mobile internet connectivity. Mobile TVs, mobile hotel-booking services, mobile newsreaders, mobile dictionaries and mobile encyclopedias, we have everything today.

There are indeed several detrimental effects of these devices on our society, such as growing levels of anxiety and mental problems, physical ailments due to long hours of exposure to high levels of radiation (especially so in the case of devices with harmful SAR values), but as a whole the society continues to progress, and Smartphones are becoming more and more indispensable for us all. These are rightly the tools of future.

Superorganisms are often described as a cluster of
interacting, independent organisms. Bees are the most
common examples in this regard, and quite notably so as seen. 

Lastly, one of the rather undiscussed effects ofsmartphones is the change in human psychology, which, some may argue, can be equated to a certain degree of micro-evolution. These devices are turning us into more social organisms, and thus uncovering the latent ‘hive mentality’ in us. Recent advancements in neuroscience continue to show us revealing examples of this sort of mentality, in which a whole group of humans continues to advance towards what can be called a state of being a super-organism. This Hive mindset continues to evolve, and is certain to impact our society even more.

Trends and moving moving fraud


Frequent Are People always move these days because of jobs, high rents, high taxes, and family issues. There is an increase in long-distance move, as well as the short distance moving. New Jersey has the tip of the outgoing state for several years 2014 to have been when they overtook Kansas. Obviously has had a recession lasting effect on the state has most jobs and lost in the Southern PRODUCTION in death. Strong dependence on the state of the manufacturing industry has had a magnified effect slowly and adapt to changes in economic. Are you a good stop on WHO technology areas to find the. Housing prices in New Jersey are also high, Phone through its northern New York bound on the economy. Property taxes and increase in income. Oregon is the top of Admission to-list. Most movers in Oregon are from California, where the High Very Are living expenses. Oregon has 61% more than people in moving statement. The city has a reputation for being “cool” Are young people and especially the moving in Oregon.

Much we have to be careful when choosing can correct moving companies as they. A key player in successful move a stress-free Are There are many on the market long distance moving companies and some Are you with quality services, while it took a few scams that will leave you in a stressful time destroys important time and soil. Avoid companies that you are over the estimated lower telephone. A good company is always one for a representative PRE-site inspection of your products, and will give you a reasonable estimate cubic feet and not on the basis of weight. Also avoid companies that a cash or Big necessary before moving stock. IF you require a deposit and ensure THAT refunded it. Stick to the Federal Government estimate the bond required by a company, the price of an estimate of the price and can not provide more THAT found 15% of the estimate is available. Make double than that on the good attention skills those who are included in the agreement, IF you Because that as a GMT GMT, which indicated agreement of the company easy service performance to take the prices for that spike service, you can and will end up paying what they had expected.

There are countless number of cases in which objects were held hostage by these scammers, a lot of the money IF you huge, far estimating the ones you agreed initially HAVE, has hit pay. Is there some legal steps you can take to protect themselves of these scammers, so it is best when his forbearance. Most people decide for themselves sell anything and everything back to buy their new location, while prefer GMT, long distance moving. However, IF you can do a thorough research and choose wisely, you will end up accumulating a lot of alleviating worries.

Wirelessly Charged Electric Buses

Wirelessly Charged Electric Buses

The another gift of technology, The Wireless Charged Electric Buses, which can run for longer by with wireless booster charge which they will receive at the initial and at the end point of the route from the plates that are fitted on the road.

These buses will first operate in the UK. A group of the eight new electric vehicles will run on a busy route in Milton Keynes by the late January. It would run on the Number 7 route, which covers 25km between the suburbs of Wolverton and Bletchley and Milton Keynes. It is estimated that they will carry 8, 00,000 passengers a year.

This vehicle have been built by the bus manufacturer of UK, Wrightbus and will operate as a part of a five year trial programme led by the European division of the Japanese company Mitsui and the Arup, the engineering group of UK.

This is possible because of the Inductive charging. They would be charged all night at the depot and then they will receive booster charges throughout the day, at the start and at the end of the route.

Technology behind Wirelessly Charged Electric Buses

The buses would be parked over the plates buried in the road. The driver then lowers the receiver plates which are fitted on the bottom of the bus to the 4cm away from the road surface and this will continue for 10 minutes. With Inductive charging, electricity passes through wire coils in the plates, that are fitted in the road, this generates the magnetic field. This field then induces a voltage across coils in the bus plates and the vehicle’s batteries are charged.

Read Also: ‘Guardian’, a new safety app for women

“Electric buses have huge potential and we’re exploring how they can help us take better care of the environment without compromising passenger service,” said John Bint of Milton Keynes Council.

The similar system was already being used in Utrecht in the Netherlands, Turin and Genoa in Italy and in Mannheim in Germany. Last year too, South Korea switched on a 12km road which can recharge electric vehicles as they drive over it and without the need for the vehicles to stop at all. Two public buses are still using the Online Electric Vehicle System in the South Korean city, Gumi.

Impact Of Modern Technology On Education

There is no doubt that modern technology has impacted in our life. It plays an important role in human life from various ways. It helps us to operate many critical and complex processes easily and effectively. Also in the education sector it impacted majorly and changes way of learning.

Computer Technology

In the education sector computers are revolutionary technology and you can’t avoid its importance in schools. It offers interactive audio visual media that allow rendering information to students via animation software and Power Point Presentation in an interactive manner. Visual effects have made learning more interesting for students.

Now days’ computer learning is a necessary part of education, so that students can gain basic knowledge of computer technology.

Internet Technology

The internet technology is providing huge information and it becomes a useful effective tool. Search engines are providing lots of information about any query. Various informative websites and web directories are providing wide knowledge. Internet is helping students to enhance their knowledge and gain some extra information too.

Internet and computer technology make distance learning simpler. Now, there is no need to be present in the classrooms, students can sit anywhere and learn. Internet also helps to submit assignment online that is now offered by number of colleges and universities.

The modern technology is not only helping us in education sector it also changing the world. Every where you can observe and sense the effect of technology. From traveling to communication everywhere technology is playing an important role and making human life trouble-free.

Modern technology, Owes ecology, An apology

Modern technology, Owes ecology, An apology

As it is said the Modern technology isinception behind the devastation of the environment and thus ecology. Most of the people while reading any article or when watching any drawing on any daily about the danger to the environment or any other related thing to ecology and environment, suddenly blames the Modern technology for this, like my Uncle does most of the time.

They are partially true according to me. The main reason is Modern technology and many other factors which are causing disaster to the ecology. But here I am only focusing on the Modern Technology only. 

In today’s modern era of rapid development of new and advance technology not just proved that nothing is Impossible but also accounts for development and providing comfort to people’s life. This modern technology apart from providing comfort to people life also causes disasters or damages to the environment. . The ecological cycle has been very much disturbed by the developments humankind have gained.

Let me take up one example to put forward my idea. Humans have made different kinds of tools to clear forest for the purpose of making house, industries, amusement parks, clubs, bars, pools, etc. This clearance of forest is the result of developing technology, otherwise it is not possible to do these activities.     We also have a good example, the production of paper. Around 59 or 60 kilograms of paper is produced from a tree. But the whole of the people living on earth are using  hundreds of thousands of tons of paper yearly. That means thousands of trees were cut so that people can use paper for the production of invitation cards, newspapers, books, advertisements, study materials, and many more. It not only reduced the number of trees existing, but also endangered the species that used to live in that habitat. Without a home, where do they live? Hence, they die and the ecological cycle that once existed there ceases to function.

Not only does modern technology is harming the environment, it also reduces its attractiveness and beauty. From prehistoric times to the 1950s, nature was one of the most enjoyed wonders and people was too much attracted towards it. Vacations were spent enjoying the sunset, enjoying the cool breeze in the forest, and watching the animals and their habitats. In this contemporary era, that sort of activity still exists at a miniscule level. People cannot find places to enjoy without paying a price to enter the national park that has to be declared a preserved area. There are no forests that can be explored on our own, without becoming a trespasser of a private property. Moreover, now majority of people go to shopping malls where some even lavish themselves clothes made of animal skin. They no longer go to parks for relaxation. Some even call park-goers’ like a frog under a shell, as they are considered out-dated. This is the mindset of people nowadays. Modern technology has clearly seemed a more attractive choice compared to the unchanging natural surroundings. Now, shouldn’t modern technology apologize to ecology for reducing attention given to it?

However, many modern new growing technologies are working towards ecology to show Apology to it, as I think. The technology developed in the last decade has made improvements to reduce damage to the environment. For example, the use of hybrid technology in vehicles like cars has greatly reduced pollution as it reduces the amount of exhaust fumes. A Japanese company, Toyota has adopted the technology and implemented it in Toyota Prius which has higher mileage and lower emissions compared to its older counterparts. Moreover, there are technological improvements in the generation of power that has minimal damage to the environment. For instance, solar power is now used in Mexico to be the sole electricity generator electricity for a small town. This hardly affects the environment. Every year, more houses in Asia are also using solar power to heat their water. Wind turbines built in Netherlands has effectively supplied a large amount of electricity to this country annually. In fact, 20% of power in Denmark is supplied by wind technology. Clearly, there are modern technologies that are aimed and have worked to minimize damage to the environment. With this perspective in mind, it does not really owe ecology an apology as it is allying with it.  

Nevertheless, due to the fact that innovations have helped the ecology, ecology shouldn’t forgive. Modern technology and work hand in hand to complement each other. Just remember this, ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. So I hope you have the will so that we can conserve and continue to enjoy one of God’s greatest blessings, mother earth.


We live in a highly sophisticated world where everything is almost achievable. There would probably have been no changes between the world of today and that of three centuries ago if necessity and serendipitous discoveries had not driven men to achieve great things. Science and technology have had huge positive effects on every society. The world today has gone digital, even human thought. Our world has been reduced to a global village and is better for it.

The benefits of science and technology far outweigh every perceived shortcoming. Some of the biggest effects of technology are in the area of communication; through the internet and mobile phones. There is advancement of communication and expansions of economic commerce. Today we hear of information and communication technology (ICT). Any institution worth its name must have it in place to be really outstanding. Information technology has become boosted in today’s generation; from the field of communication, business, education, and down to the entertainment industry. Through information technology, work performances are boosted with less effort and greater productivity by using various operations. Without computers or the internet, it will be difficult for people all over the world to get their questions answered. One may use the internet to locate a wealth of information with which to answer an essay question that may have been assigned at school, communicate with people, conduct transactions, access news, buy and advertise goods. The list is endless.

The advancement of Science and technology allow mass communication today so that we not only have the television, radio and newspaper, but even mobile phones which renders a multipurpose service; from long distance calls, listening to radio and music, playing games, taking pictures, recording voice and video, and browsing the internet. The benefits we obtain as a result of services from ICT have become widespread in our generation today. It improves the productive level of individuals and workers because People’s knowledge of life beyond the area they lived in is now unlimited. This idea of mass communication also profoundly affects politics as leaders now have many ways they talk directly to the people. Apart from going on air to use radio or television, politicians resort to the social media for some of their political comments and campaign. Information about protests and revolutions are being circulated online, especially through social media. This has caused political upheavals and resulted in change of government in most countries today.

Furthermore, current global issues are much more accessible to the public. Communication has been brought also to the next level because one can find new ways to be able to communicate with loved ones at home.

Science and technology expand society’s knowledge. Science helps humans gain increased understanding of how the world works, while technology helps scientists make these discoveries. Learning has maximized because of different media that are being developed which are all interactive and which bring learning experiences to the next level. Businesses have grown and expanded because of breakthroughs in advertising.

Modern technology has changed the way many companies produce their goods and handle their business. The idea and use of video and web conferencing, for instance, has helped companies remove geographical barriers and given them the opportunity to reach out to employees and clients through out the world. In today’s economy, it has helped companies reduce the cost and inconveniences of travelling, allowing them to meet as often as they could like without having to worry about finding the budget to settle it. Modern technology helps companies reduce their carbon footprint and become green due to the fact that almost anything can be done from a computer.

There have been advances in medical care through the development of science and technology. Advances in medical technology have contributed immensely in extending the life span of people. People with disabilities or health problems are now more and more able to live closer to normal lives. This is because science contributes to developing medications to enhance health as well as technology such as mobile chairs and even electronics that monitor current body levels. Most devices used by the physically challenged people are customized and user friendly.

Science and technology increase road safety. Nowadays, law enforcement officers use Laser technology to detect when automobiles are exceeding speed limits. Technology has led to the development of modern machines such as cars and motorcycles which allow us to be mobile and travel freely and airplanes which travel at a supersonic speed.

Another machine, the air- conditioner, provides cool comfort, especially during hot weather. In offices where dress codes exist, people can afford to wear suits without being worried about the weather. It guarantees convenience even when the climate says otherwise.

Moreover, present day factories have modern facilities like machines and soft ware that facilitate production. These machines work with greater speed and perfection incomparable with human skills. These machines have enabled markets to have surplus products all over the world. For the soft ware, they make it possible for machines to be programmed, for production to be regulated, to monitor the progress being recorded and so on.

Modern technology indeed has been great. For third world countries, however, it has been challenging, especially the area of production. Only consuming and not been able to manufacture does not favour any country when it comes to balance of trade. The most sensitive parts of technology are the theoretical or conceptual parts and technical parts. These are the backbone of technological development anywhere in the world. Without the ideas, there will not be technology. Third world counties need to go back to the basics, that is, to the primitive. There must be meeting ground for tradition and modern technological invention. Third world countries engage in import substitution strategy where they import half finished goods and complete the tail end of the production process domestically. Third world countries started wrongly. They started with climbing the ladder from the top which is very wrong and difficult. They thought that being able to purchase and operate modern technological products qualifies for advancement in science and technological development. This makes third world countries to be a dependent system because working in the factories are routine work and this inevitably links to the issue of the idea of technology transfer. They should seek for technological transfer, but the problem is that no nation is ready to transfer her hard earned technological knowledge to any other nation for some certain reasons which drive nations into competition; world politics and economic prowess. That is the struggle to lead or dominate other nations technologically, economically and politically. Be the first to invent new gadgets and latest electronics including those used in modern warfare, use other nations as market for finished goods, and to have a strong voice and be able to influence other countries. They should consider embarking on technological espionage so as to acquire the rudiments for technological development if they must liberate themselves from the shackles of technological domination.

In conclusion, it’s not until third world countries begin to put embargo on the importation of certain electronics and mechanical goods that the necessity to be creative would replace the habit of consuming foreign products. Countries like Thailand, Burma, Brazil, and South Africa and so on, should be emulated. These countries experienced colonialism yet they did not allow it to overwhelm their creative prowess. Industry and determination saw them emerge as economic giants in the world today. Third world countries should emulate them by carrying out proper feasibility studies to ascertain which technology will suit their country; giving more financial boost to this area, training people to become experts; motivating and encouraging individuals who are naturally endowed and technologically inclined to display their bests of talents. These measures if strictly adhered to will go a long way to help the advancement of these countries in the area of science and technology. If these countries must achieve greatness before the next decade, they have to make conscious and unrelenting efforts. The time starts now! The more they delay, the more backward they become.

Is Modern Technology Creating a Borg-like Society?

Sounds Swedish…

The Borg are the true villains of the Star Trek universe. True, the Klingons are warlike and jingoistic, the Romulans are devious and isolationist, and the Cardassians are just plain devious, but their methods and motivations are, for want of a better word, all too human-like. The Borg are truly alien: a hive-like superorganism, bent upon assimilating every living thing into their collective mind. To hardy individualists, this is the epitome of evil.

In a somewhat alarmist article entitled “We are the Borg! Human Assimilation into Cellular Society”, Ronnie Lipschutz and Rebecca Hester wonder whether we are at risk of creating a Borg-like society of our own. After all, we are on the verge of creating a world in which every object or event is monitored for data, which is then uploaded to the internet (the so-called “internet of things”). The pace at which we are doing so is truly outstanding. AsJeremy Rifkin highlights in his recent book, in 2007, there were an estimated 10 million sensor devices connecting human artifacts to the internet; by 2013 this was believed to have risen to 3.5 billion; and by 2030 it is estimated to reach 100 trillion. With the increasing ubiquity of these sensors, and with brain sensor devices being included among their ranks, is it really that far-fetched to say that we are creating a Borg-like society?

Lipschutz and Hester argue that it isn’t, and that even if true Borg-likeness is a distant possibility, there are aspects of our current technological infrastructure that are pushing us in that direction. Their article performs a useful service to those of us who interested in technology and the future of human society. It draws attention to aspects of our prevailing political ideologies that draw us toward a Borg-like future; it highlights the technologies that may make this possible; and it suggests why this might be problematic (though it doesn’t spend nearly enough time on this latter issue).

In this post, I want to take a more detailed look at their arguments, focusing, in particular, on the ideological and evaluative aspects. In doing so, I hope to clarify, expand upon and critically engage with what they have to say. I want to stress at the outset that I think there are many potential benefits to the kinds of technology mentioned below. It is those very benefits, however, that make this such an important and interesting debate.

In what follows, I focus on three questions. First, what kinds of technology might make the Borg-like society a reality? Second, what kinds of ideology might drive us to use those technologies in a Borg-like fashion? And third, is this worrying and if so why?

1. What kinds of technology might make this possible?
Before thinking about the technologies that would make a Borg-like society possible, it is worth pausing to consider what a “Borg-like” society would actually look like. In the world of Star Trek, the Borg are a superorganism, much like an ant or termite colony, with an underclass of workers/drones, headed-up by a “queen”. The colony works by “assimilating” new individuals, races and species into a collective mind. Every newly-assimilated drone has their mind and identity completely fused into the colony’s collective consciousness. They consequently lose any sense of individuality and autonomy: their thoughts are no longer their own; they think and act solely for the benefit of the group. The queen may be the one exception to this.

Lipschutz and Hester do not think that we are literally on the verge of creating a collective mind that would rival what we see in the Trek TV series. Instead, they think that some of our technologies are making our societies more Borg-like, where this falls short of what is depicted on screen. To be precise, they think that a variety of technological and social changes “point toward a “cellular society”, in which individual identities and autonomy are submerged in a greater whole” (Lipschutz and Hester, p. 2 of the online version).

With this in mind, we can craft a rough-and-ready definition of Borg-likeness:

Borg-likeness: A society can be said to become more Borg-like to the extent that it minimises the diversity of individual identities and reduces the scope individual autonomy by subsuming those individuals into a greater whole.

The problem with this, of course, is that all societies are Borg-like to some extent. There would be no society without some submerging of individuality into a greater whole. After all, societies work by policing individual behaviour through the use norms (social, legal, moral etc.). Nevertheless, there are obviously degrees of Borg-likeness. It is those degrees that are important in this debate. Some societies are incredibly authoritarian, and work hard to minimise individuality. Others are much looser in the restrictions they place on individuality. The question is what degree of Borg-likeness is acceptable.

There are variety of mechanisms through which society can become more Borg-like. Technological changes are merely one part of the picture. Nevertheless, Lipschutz and Hester suggest — as do others — that they are an important part of the picture. Modern technologies, in particular technologies relating to the internet of things, can greatly facilitate the creation of Borg-like power structures.

So what are these technologies? The most obvious, and most prevalent, are the technologies of surveillance. This includes anything that records what we do, where we go, what we say, who we say it to, and so on. Such technologies are becoming more and more prevalent, from the CCTV cameras that dominate our urban environments, to the metal detectors and X-ray machines that protect our public buildings, to the smartphones we carry in our pockets. Every one of these technologies helps to facilitate the control and constriction of individual behaviour.

These technologies of surveillance are greatly assisted by the internet and by modern data-processing algorithms. The internet allows for the information recorded by surveillance technologies to be uploaded, shared and stored across a global network. This allows governments and other members of society to police individual behaviour. The data-processing algorithms add an additional layer to this. They help to “tame” the overwhelming volume of data that is recorded by these technologies. They spot patterns and draw connections. If they are integrated within an artificial intelligence control system, they can even automate the control of individual behaviour, warning us when we violate norms, and perhaps even issuing punishments and commencing court proceedings against us.

In addition to all this, there are specific forms of surveillance and control that make the possibility of a Borg-like society even more tangible. Lipschutz and Hester draw particular attention to technologies for the mobile-monitoring of health-related data. We already have some primitive forms of this (with things like the Fitbit) but there are some pipeline technologies that would be more impressive. Similarly, there are technologies for reading brain-based data, and inferring mental states from that data, and also technologies that allow for direct brain-to-brain or brain-to-computer communication.

I have to say that I’m wary of the claims made in relation to brain-reading technologies. I know a fair bit about brain-based lie detectors and the like (I’ve published a few bits and pieces on it already, and should have a new article on the topic in the next couple of months), and I don’t think anything we currently have allows for pervasive “mind-reading”. I worry about overstating the effectiveness of these technologies, and of the attendant hype and panic-mongering. Still, not even I can dismiss long-term possibilities.

2. What are the ideological pressures that might encourage this?
As I said above, technology is just part of the picture. Technology doesn’t simply pop into existence. There are ideological, cultural and economic pressures behind every technological development. Indeed, by themselves, technologies of surveillance and control do not create a more Borg-like society. They need ideological assistance to do that. One of the real strengths of Lipschutz and Hester’s article is their attempt to draw attention to the ideological mechanisms that might hasten such a creation.

Chief among these ideological mechanisms is the prevalence of risk-based thinking. We live in risk societies. These are societies that are deeply concerned with identifying and pre-empting social and personal risks. These include things like economic meltdowns, natural disasters, the spread of infectious diseases, terrorism and other threats to national security, public health crises (e.g. cancer, obesity), and other possible environmental and technological disasters. These threats are constantly discussed in the public space, and governments are repeatedly tasked with addressing and resolving these incipient risks.

This preoccupation with risk creates the ideological impetus for the Borg-like society. The concern for risk alters the subjective worldviews of virtually every actor within a society. They now tend to be on the look out for potential risks; and to seek control of individual behaviour in risk-minimising ways. The kinds of technologies discussed in the previous section are ideal assistants in this. They allow us to constantly monitor and intervene in individual behaviour.

Lipschutz and Hester highlight two further, closely-related, mechanisms that might push us toward the Borg-like society. These mechanisms operate in the shadow of risk-based thinking. That is to say, they cannot really be understood apart from that background ideological framework. They are:

The “Double-Down” Mentality: Whenever a risk materialises, governments and other social actors tend to double-down on that risk. In other words, they dedicate more resources to policing and controlling that risk. We see this pattern repeatedly in recent social history. A good example would be the doubling-down on the threat of terrorism post 9/11. This brought with it a host of new laws and technologies for monitoring and controlling individual behaviour.

The Willing Consent Mentality: Although the policing of risk can be coercively enforced by governments from the top-down, it is also willingly consented to by citizens from the bottom-up. The fact is, most people want to avoid risks to their personal well-being. They will happily accept the technological infrastructure that makes this possible, even if it means sacrificing a degree of autonomy and independence.

This is not to suggest that people are simply willing slaves to governmental policy. There is still some resistance to these technologies, and that resistance may not be entirely futile. The important point is that the technologies that allow for the creation of a Borg-like society have a seductive ideological appeal. This appeal is felt by governments and individual citizens alike. Lipschutz and Hester use terrorism and national security as an example of how this has already happened (they say nothing about the Snowden leak and the ensuing debate, which suggests that their article was written before that came to light). I might use healthcare as another example. A lot of people are enthusiastic about health-tracking hardware and software. They use it to improve their fitness, enhance their well-being, increase their productivity and reduce their waistlines. This can be autonomy-enhancing. But the technology that makes this possible can — unless we are careful — also be used to police and control individual behaviour, as governments and health insurers try to reduce risks, and as members of our peer group encourage us to be healthier and to reduce their own exposure to health risks. There may be good rationales for all this intervention and control, ones that we buy into, but it still increases the Borg-likeness of our society.

3. Should we be worried about this?
Grant for now that the technologies and ideologies identified above are increasing (and will continue to increase) the Borg-likeness of our societies. Is this something we should be worried about? This is an evaluative question. It is asking us: would a more Borg-like society be worse, all things considered, than a less Borg-like one? This depends on one’s evaluative commitments. Unfortunately, Lipschutz and Hester are not particularly strong on this matter in their article. They (somewhat ironically) highlight the general risks associated with it, and point to questions that need to asked in the future.

I want to be a little more systematic in my analysis. I would say that there are three general classes of evaluative concern one might have about creating a more Borg-like society. The first two are present at minimal degrees of Borg-likeness. Indeed, they are present right now. The last would only be present at high degrees of Borg-likeness, but is probably worth considering anyway. I won’t analyse these concerns in any great depth; I will merely sketch them.

The first concern has to do with the further opportunities for risk that are created by these technologies. This concern is somewhat ironic since we are assuming that one of the rationales for introducing and deploying these technologies is their ability to minimise risk. But even if this is the case, we must acknowledge that these technologies bring with them fresh opportunities for risk creation. Technologies of surveillance and control can be co-opted by those with nefarious goals, be they governments, corporations or other groups of citizens. For example, devices that automatically administer insulin to diabetics could be hacked into and used to lethal effect. The same goes for any semi-automated medical device with wireless technology. And this is just one subset of technology. Additional risks and harms will be made possible by other technologies. Identity theft, for instance, is now more common thanks to the huge amount of personal data that is now inputted and stored online.

The second concern has to do with harms to privacy. This is, in many ways, the classic concern when it comes to technologies of surveillance and control. I am one of those people who think that privacy is not an overwhelmingly important good. I certainly don’t think it is an intrinsic good. There is a line in one of Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic, where he suggests that the best way to live one’s life is to have nothing to fear if its details are exposed to one’s worst enemy. I tend to think that is the right ideal. I would certainly like to think that I have done nothing in my life that I am ashamed to share with others.

Nevertheless, I don’t wish to be naive in this. I think that privacy is an important bulwark against the moral imperfection of others. What do I mean by this? Well, I think that ideally I would have nothing to fear from disclosure of personal information to others, but I realise that this only works if those others are morally enlightened. The problem is that other people have morally imperfect attitudes. They can be intolerant of alternative lifestyle choices, even when those choices are perfectly acceptable. They can perceive those choices as a threat, and they can inflict various forms of harm on those who make those choices. Consider the way in which homosexuals have been treated throughout history. Privacy should be protected in order to guard against the moral imperfection of others. Otherwise, personal data could be used to persecute and oppress minorities and perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes.

What does this mean for the technologies that increase the Borg-likeness of society? The answer is complicated by the fact that not only do these technologies provide opportunities for oppression, they also provide opportunities for empowerment. To give an example, on the day that I write this post a video has gone viral in which a man has recorded a racist verbal attack on him by a woman. This video is, arguably, being used to positive effect by bringing racism into the light and holding those with racist attitudes to public account. Similarly, Tal Zarsky has argued that algorithmic control systems could be less prone to implicit bias than human control systems (I covered this argument previously). So I’m not sure what the answer is here. There are important values that are protected by the right to privacy and threatened by the technologies in question; but at the same time, those values can also be protected and enhanced by the same technologies. It all really depends on who controls the technological infrastructure.

The final concern has to do with threats to individual identity, autonomy and responsibility. This is the concern that dominates when it comes to the fictional Borg. The reason why the Borg are so villanous, and so disturbing to the Federation, is that they ride roughshod over these values, callously assimilating individuals into their collective. Is this a serious concern in the real world? I think it might be, certainly in the long-term.

I, for one, value my individuality. I think my identity is important, and my ability to choose my own course in life is something worth protecting (as long as it does not inflict moral harm on others). I think this is true for other individuals too, of course. There is a real concern that technologies of surveillance and control could impact negatively on these values. By constantly monitoring and policing our behaviour (and maybe even our thoughts) these technologies could reduce diversity and create an increasingly homogenised set of social actors. Such actors might become little more than moral patients — i.e. passive and controlled recipients of the benefits of technology — with no real sense of their own agency and responsibility. With direct brain-to-brain communication and control, this could be further exacerbated, leading to the creation of something very close to the fictional world of the Borg.

Not everyone is worried about this. Some people are far more communitarian in their moral outlook, and some even positively embrace the idea of collective minds in which our mentality is submerged. Although I don’t think he says so explicitly, Ray Kurzweil’s dream of creating a universe that is saturated by our intelligence seems to imply something like this (at least, I can’t see how this could be realised without the creation of something like a massive groupmind). I find nothing attractive in this vision. I like the idea of harnessing technology to increase the scope of individual autonomy; I don’t like the idea of submerging the individual in a collective mind. Perhaps this is just an irrational prejudice on my part.

Anyway, that brings us to the end of this post. To recap, the central thesis of Lipschutz and Hester’s article is that modern technologies of surveillance and control, coupled with the ideological superstructure of the risk society, make the creation of Borg-like societies a reality. I have tried to clarify their reasons for thinking this and to identify the evaluative concerns that such societies would raise. No doubt I have missed many important issues. Feel free to offer your thoughts in the comments section.