The Doomsday Machine, By John Markoff

1072 words - 4 pages

"The Doomsday Machine"-Fact or fiction

John Markoff's "The Doomsday Machine" is an intriguing view on how our technology may exponentially improve into the future, but the essay fails to support the thesis statement that our technology will eventually destroy the human race. His dire predictions for our future are based on theories as well as conclusions that are themselves based on theories. These predictions do not account for how other simultaneous technological advancements and the desire for profit will affect our world. It ignores the power of human imagination, ingenuity, feelings, and personal motivation. There is also a complete disregard for God's plan.

Most of Markoff’s essay is used to aid us in envisioning the new technology that may be close at hand, but it is written as if a single piece of technology is developed in a vacuum, where its emergence will drastically change our world. This is not how the market for technology functions. Technology markets acts in a manner that is virtually indistinguishable from all other market segments, in that their goal is not to make things we need, per se, but instead it is to make a profit. Profit motivates the free market; and in the technology market, new products have a very short life cycle. The investors’ need to see profits will demand that new technology is placed on the market as soon as there is a perceived demand from the consumer. This tactic will increase sales and to avoid initial competition. With that, competitors may try to exploit profits by using this new technology in a negative way, but there is great profit to be made in counter-threat technology as well. People like Markoff spend time thinking of how new technologies can be used for “Evil” purposes and then design counter threat technology to render the threat useless. McAfee and Norton Antivirus programs are examples of these. While “Evil” ways to use technology are being planned; simultaneously, good people are working very hard to develop the counter technology to combat it. The greater the real or perceived threat is, the greater the profit that can be made in this counter threat technology market.

Markoff’s essay, mixed with a society bombarded with fictional movies and books on this topic help to further blur the lines between fact and fiction, which assists in creating the possibility in one’s mind that this essay is more factual then it is. Computers do not and cannot have feelings. They can be programmed to respond in a certain way to certain stimuli, but they are not true feelings. There will never be a creation like Bicentennial Man or Sonny from I Robot. The fact that computers cannot feel, and feelings drive personal motivation, there is nothing to motivate a computer to better itself and progress like humans do. Ingenuity and imagination are two things that make the human race progress like no other species known to man. Ingenuity and imagination are closely linked, and they are...

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