Tech is always both good and bad. But we live in a time when everything gets weaponized—ideas, images, ancient texts, biases, and even people. And technology provides the tools to do it easier, faster, and with less resources.
Older threats like atomic warheads are still a serious danger, but they’re hard to deliver and take time and money to build. Delivering toxic images or malware to millions or billions of people, or even badly edited genes to future generations, is easy by comparison. Other technologies like artificial intelligence could have gradual, long-term effects that we do not or can not understand at present.
We’re living in a period of technological wonderment, but many of the shiniest new technologies come with their own built-in potential for harm. These are five of the most dystopian technologies of 2020—and beyond.
CYBERCRIMINALS AND RANSOMWARE
This summer, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) called ransomware “the most visible cybersecurity risk playing out across our nation’s networks.” CISA says that many attacks—in which a cybercriminal seizes and encrypts a person’s or organization’s data and then extorts the victim for cash—are never reported because the victim organization pays off the cybercriminals and doesn’t want to publicize its insecure systems.