Long live the punch card!

On days like this it seems as if Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will come alive any second and engulf the entire world. Not the Frankenstein you would suspect, however. Instead of the grotesque giant you would imagine with a green face and bolts coming out of its neck, the Frankenstein that’s holding the world in its wounded hands is the monster Shelley was originally writing about: technology. And I don’t know about anyone else, but technology is definitely starting to scare me.

Now I’ll admit we are nowhere near the “Jetsons” reality, where robots are utilized instead of human labor and everyone flies around in cute UFO-looking space cars. But there is no denying that technology has made some pretty scary advancements in the last couple of years.

Take the majority of modern cash registers for instance. Instead of the standard grey registers with elevated keys, modern registers are flat one-touch computer screens with a small box in which an employee is to press his or her thumb in order to “clock in.” What happened to old-fashioned punch cards?

While sharing this tidbit of information with my mom during Christmas break at a local Houston grocery store, the clerk checking us out interjected with an interesting insight. He said that credit card companies were developing technologies that would require the client to use his or her thumbprint like a digital signature.

While this may not seem too weird or invasive for you, take into consideration that the United States government has implemented the use of tiny microchips in U.S. passports. In the next five years all passports will require this chip, which contains all of your personal information and photograph. Walk within a certain number of feet of a customs checkpoint computer and the United States government will know it.

The infamous “VeriChip” has been making headlines as well. Created and marketed by the VeriChip Corporation, the VeriChip is the first human-implantable microchip. It can hold all of a person’s information, credit card history, medical history, etc. It is logical to conclude that a chip like this could become part of a national id system in the near future.

The Internet is another prime example. In the matter of minutes we are logged onto the “World Wide Web,” meeting people thousands of miles away and sending information faster than it can be generated. I can’t be the only person left wondering: how much is too much?

Around 500 years ago, it would have been hard for people to imagine living in today’s technology-based society. Just 50 years ago Americans would be looking at today’s computer systems and screaming “communism!”

The people of today are looking at modern technology and wondering when there is going to be yet another revolutionizing innovation.

The Industrial Revolution pales in comparison to the amount of technological growth this world has seen in the last 20 years, but Mary Shelley was right to be concerned.

We are creating a monster. And slowly, but surely, the technology we crave will begin to consume us and we will become inhuman.

I’ll admit that some technological advancements are beneficial, but at what cost?

In the next 10 years I am interested to see what new gizmos and gadgets are available on the market. I am even more interested to see how much people are willing to cash out in order to dehumanize themselves even more.

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