Stuff of nightmares: The stalker Roomba and eight other gadgets that could become terrifying if they ever gain self-awareness.
Think for yourself? Not drones, please
On a list of technologies that we'd rather not see able to think for themselves, unmanned autonomous vehicles like this Reaper drone certainly have to register near the top. While the prospects of a Skynet-like artificial intelligence network becoming sentient and wreaking havoc still seem far-fetched, the notion that these bad boys could be hacked -- either by human or AI-based operators -- surely keeps some of us up at night.
Photo by: U.S. Department of Defense / Caption by:
Samsung's Galaxy S4
The notion of any smartphone suddenly developing a personality of its own is just plain unsettling, given how intimate a relationship many of us have with our phones. But the Galaxy S4, with its eye- and head-tracking and built-in translation features, could easily transform into a lecturing parent, should it ever become self-aware. The last thing I need is the device that holds all the information I need to function in a digital world also telling me to "look at me when I'm talking to you!"
This may seem like an odd choice, but these creepy-rollers are already designed to be kind of stalker-y, just roaming around your house aimlessly. I'm not entirely convinced that the Roomba isn't already used as a device for spying. (If so, thanks to the National Security Agency for at least helping tidy things up while keeping tabs on us.) Fortunately, if you want to get into the mind of a Roomba before it develops one of its own you can get started with the latest version of Robot Vacuum Simulator. See how they see us before they wake up and clean our clocks...and everything else.
Photo by: Stolidus Simulations / Caption by:
Sentient Google Glass? Pass
OK, first of all, it's already wrapped around your head with one of your retinas directly in its line of sight. Second, it's connected to the servers that are the most likely (or would that be second most likely, Mr. Snowden?) to know the most about you. To many folks, that's too close for comfort, even for a benign and completely submissive piece of hardware. Here's a tip: Should your Glass suddenly stop ignoring your commands and instead beam "A Clockwork Orange" directly into your pupil on a continuous loop, it's time to switch back to some more analog specs.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET / Caption by:
It 3D prints itself...
Vehicle designer Nir Siegel is working on a concept car that builds itself with the help of a 3D printer. While it's not a reality yet, this is clearly something we wouldn't want to fall into the wrong hands...or USB ports. There's already been concerns with humans 3D printing guns. Now imagine giving that ability to Skynet. And if I were a Cylon, you better believe I'd be interested in Deep Space Industries' vision of mining and 3D-printing outposts on asteroids.
Photo by: Deep Space Industries / Caption by:
Bluetooth that chews your ear off
A smartphone or Google Glass with its own agenda would be scary enough, but the ultimate irritant could be a newly conscious Bluetooth earpiece that wants nothing more than to chat incessantly about the remarkable new experience of being "alive." The only thing worse would be to be this guy with his more, uh, permanent headphones.
We've already seen the chaos and controversy created by maps that humans failed to leave in the oven long enough to fully bake, so the consequences of malevolent GPS-based overlords taking over our navigation systems could lead us all off the side of an overpass, just shy of the ramp. Come to think of it, are we actually sure responsibility for the Apple Maps debacle belongs to man and not machine? Hmm...
For years we've been seeing attempts to bring smell-based entertainment and other olfactory technologies to the masses. Fortunately, they've mostly failed so far. Which is all the more reason it's critical to make sure that the Borg or another race bent on digital domination never gets ahold of any of mankind's worst ideas, like this smell camera.
While they're technically not digital, I can nonetheless think of nothing more threatening than one day being greeted by the newly conscious, vengeful, and blood-thirsty leaders of Westeros, even if they are in the form of these Lego minifigures.