Computers control our future. Will they have a conscience?

I am a technological determinist who believes humans do not control machines; they control us. In the age of artificial intelligence, we should revisit that viewpoint to glimpse what awaits us.

During the heyday of internet in the 1990s, developers created algorithms to glue us to screens. They downplayed the impact on our psyches. After all, we could always turn off computers.

Then those advocates freaked out with the Y2K bug of 1999. They implored us to shut down computers as we transitioned from Dec. 31, 1999, to Jan. 1, 2000. To save memory space, programmers had coded machines to recognize four-digit years as two digits. They worried that computers would recognize “00” as “1900,” not “2000,” setting us back a century.

Iowa State University prophesied that few problems would occur. “Most faculty and staff won’t need to visit the workplace to check for Y2K problems on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day or even Sunday, Jan. 2….

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