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Big Picture Science

Mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy is great, but could we be los­ing con­trol? As our world becomes more crowd­ed and demands for resources are greater, some peo­ple wor­ry about humanity’s uncer­tain prospects. An emi­nent cos­mol­o­gist con­sid­ers globe-alter­ing devel­op­ments such as cli­mate change and arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence. Will we be able to stave off seri­ous threats to our future?

There’s also anoth­er pos­si­ble source of dan­ger: our trendy dig­i­tal aids. We seem all-too-will­ing to let algo­rithms clas­si­fy and define our wants, our needs, and our behav­ior. Instead of using tech­nol­o­gy, are we being used by it – to inad­ver­tent­ly become social media’s product? 

And while we may be skit­tish about the increased data our tech­nol­o­gy col­lects, one sci-fi writer imag­ines a future in which infor­ma­tion is a per­va­sive and freely avail­able commodity.