News Herald – Juliann Talkington
We are the cusp of modifying, controlling, and creating life. Human to human brain sharing, artificial life forms, and robot swarms are all reality. Even though these technologies are in the early stages of development and are still too expensive and complicated for widespread use, it is not too early to start preparing for the eventual impact these discoveries will have on society.
Unlike earlier scientific advances, these breakthroughs come with a myriad of ethical issues. What kind of security is necessary to protect individuals from having information shared or removed from their brains? What are the safety issues and risks associated with releasing artificial life forms into the environment? Should man be playing God and creating life that does not exist in nature? What happens if robots work together without humans?
Unsettling, certainly. Terrifying, if our children are not able to keep their brains and bodies safe.
There is a delicate balance between the benefits of these new technologies and safety. Used in the right ways, these scientific advances could provide everyone with a much higher quality of life. Used in the wrong ways, these discoveries could lead to the destruction of humankind.
As a result, it is imperative that parents prepare their children to ask good questions and make wise decisions about the use of these new technologies.
First, parents must embrace change. Even though it was not imperative to understand science 30 years ago, it is now. This means science education needs to be a top priority for all children. Science, especially chemistry and physics, requires a strong math background, so kids need high math proficiency as well. Fortunately, there are many free online tools available to supplement what children learn at school including courses and materials available through the Kahn Academy, MIT, and Stanford.
Academic learning alone, however, is not enough. Everyone needs to be aware of the latest technical advances. Many articles about scientific discoveries are now written for a lay people, so it is possible for the general population to stay up to date on the latest innovations.
In addition to encouraging children to read about cutting edge scientific research, it is also important to talk about the potential positives and negatives of these new technologies. As with drugs and alcohol, discussion and awareness helps prepare kids to make wise decisions about how they will allow these technologies to interact with their bodies and lives.