By Bryan Smilek, Opinion Writer
During his lifetime, Walt Disney purchased real estate in Florida with plans to create a “City of Tomorrow”. This city would be a metropolitan utopia that would include the latest technology and provide a glimpse into the future of society. Citizens would not own property, have no voting rights, and would never be able to retire. In a sense, the people were enslaved to the city and the modern technology provided by the Disney Corporation. This idea was later named EPCOT. However, the “City of Tomorrow” would never come to fruition during the life of Walt Disney.
Although Walt Disney may have failed to build the ‘perfect” society, Bill Gates has undertaken Disney’s vision. He has purchased 25,000 acres of land in Arizona. There, he plans to build a society in which each building will support one another, as envisioned in a futuristic society. Such a system has never been seen in society before and seems outlandish to most of us. However, Gates has faced adversity and doubt from people before, as evident by his historical career portfolio. His plan, to create a self-run society is extremely dependent on modern technology. Specifically, it will rely on artificial intelligence, the branch of computer science in which computers perform humanlike tasks.
The main problem with his utilization of artificial intelligence will be getting people to buy in on the concept of humanlike robots. Currently, society does not trust machinery that could potentially “overtake” society and fill the tasks occupied by humans in the workforce. In addition, the majority of the population finds it unethical to instill a sense of creativity into robots. Creativity is a facet of humans that distinguishes them from animals and all other life forms. If one were to program a sense of imagination into a robot through, that machinery would have abilities that are made available only by having a soul. Moreover, by creating a lifeform, people become skeptical as to whether it is morally acceptable or not to replicate the creation patterns of a divine power.
In addition to raising multiple questions, artificial intelligence is raw and in its initial phases. For Gates to make his attempt to establish a utopia, he will need to advance technology quickly and effectively. However, this is not a challenge for Gates, as he previously created the technological powerhouse, Microsoft, in his early adulthood. With Gates’ repertoire, the idea of the “City of Tomorrow” may not be as far off as many people believe it to be. In fact, he has already invested $80 million into the concept, showing his motivation to create a society that runs solely on technology. If he continues to invest long-term into this society, people may be experiencing a change in their lives sooner than they think.
By Bill Gates developing artificial intelligence, people will see the rapid changes in society and the economy. The economy will shift towards technology and stray away from human labor, causing unemployment rates to skyrocket. Additionally, people will be investing larger amounts of money into technology that is raw and potentially filled with algorithmic errors. Thus, citizens will not be making money while spending money, causing families to lose their wealth and potentially start a recession. Society will have to cope with the moral issues and uncertainty surrounding the never-before-seen utopia. This may disgruntle many people and cause differences and hatred amongst groups of people. Therefore, conflicts may arise and civilization will turn haywire and hectic.
Bill Gates may be able to create the artificial intelligence needed to build the coveted “City of Tomorrow”. However, this may not be in the best interest of society due to the conflict and uncertainty surrounding the ethics and effectiveness of the new technology. This utopia may not be in the best interest of modern society, a place where uprising and hatred comes too often. Frankly, postponing the creation of a technological utopia is in the best interest of humanity.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 12th print edition.
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