Flying cars and iToilets: welcome to the future

Thousands of glitzy new gadgets have been launched today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Some of the innovations could transform our lives — but not necessarily for the better.

Facial recognition cat food bowls that only open for specific pets; freshly baked bread vending machines; underwater drones; self-driving cars. From the ridiculous to the revolutionary: the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has it all.

Opening in Las Vegas today, the event brings together 200,000 tech junkies, journalists and entrepreneurs to try out the most cutting-edge gadgets and technology. Some of the gizmos might just revolutionise our lives forever.

This year, the show is dominated by companies trying to make our lives “smarter” — fitting everyday objects with mini computers, cameras or microphones. This allows them to connect to the internet and complete tasks automatically.

Which machine is making the biggest splash so far? The smart toilet. Designed by manufacturing company Kohler, it connects to Amazon’s Alexa and comes with voice controls, personalised cleaning functions, ambient lighting, speakers and a heated seat.

It is just one of countless intelligent household devices on show, including smart padlocks, smart bottle openers, smart fridges, smart doorbells, smart mirrors and smart baby toys.

While all these things may make life more convenient, some worry that the trend is going too far.

“Putting a computer in everything turns the whole world into a computer security threat,” writes Farhad Manjoo. “In a roboticised world, hacks would not just affect your data but could endanger your property, your life and even national security.”

Nevertheless, many remain excited by what CES has to offer. For example, several gadgets promise to boost our health and hygiene. The Y-Brush supposedly gives teeth a perfect clean in just 10 seconds. Various other innovations could improve sleep, decrease anxiety and diagnose genetic diseases.

Then there is the self-driving revolution — something no longer limited to cars. Visitors will see self-driving suitcases whizzing between the stalls, specially programmed to follow their owner. Self-driving lawnmowers, buses and tractors are also on display.

Which of these technologies will catch on remains to be seen.

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Beneath the glitz and gizmos, important questions arise concerning our relationship with technology. Will surrounding ourselves with “smart” objects endanger our privacy? Are we willing to sacrifice some privacy for the convenience these objects bring? Can we bring ourselves to trust a self-driving car, or a medical diagnosis given by an app?

More fundamentally, just how smart should we let machines become? Artificial intelligence is constantly improving and could soon outpace the power of the human mind. What happens if we can no longer control the machines we create?



Foord, R. (n.d.). Flying cars and iToilets: welcome to the future. Retrieved from http://theday.co.uk/technology/flying-cars-and-itoilets-welcome-to-the-future

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