Nanotech – Nanotechnology has the potential to be the most important and ground breaking technology of all time, offering everything from the cure to diseases to fixing the global environment. It could also be used to create diseases and destroy the environment.
RFID – What could be wrong with a simple little radio tag that helps businesses manage supplies? Well, if one thinks of “people” as supplies and “manage” as track everywhere they go, then the potential for damage can get pretty high. There are even some fringe groups that think that RFID is the Biblical number of the beast.
Artificial Intelligence – From Joshua to Skynet to the Matrix, if Hollywood has taught us one thing it is that when the apocalypse comes, it will be caused by an artificial intelligence that has decided humankind’s time is up. But AI doesn’t need to go that far to be dangerous. When AI finally does start to work, it’s a good bet that people will use it in areas where the smartest and safest course would be to stick with human intuition.
Mobile payment – Isn’t it great that you can pay for things just by clicking your cell phone at a kiosk or vending machine? Or, put another way, isn’t it great that you pay for things from an unsecured device that is hooked into possibly multiple networks that themselves have limited security? The possibilities for massive theft and fraud in this area must even tempt honest hackers.
Digital Identities – Efforts to create a single sign-on digital identity system for the entire Web have tended to have the best interests of consumers at heart, with lots of protections for user information and privacy. But if one of these systems becomes ubiquitous it will only be a matter of time until lots of sites and companies work to make digital identities more “convenient”, which will lead to compromised security and identity theft on a massive scale.
Web OS – What’s the nightmare that’s been keeping Microsoft execs awake at night for years now? That everything will transfer to the web, from business applications to personal data to games, and no one will care what the underlying operating system is. But while there are a lot of positive gains from the arrival of the Web as Operating System, imagine what a tempting target it will be for bad guys when all the applications and data of every business and user is on Web systems (which will inevitably be centralized due to competition). And you think people freaked out when Salesforce.com went down for a few hours.
GPS – Global Positioning Systems have been a boon to lost drivers, hikers and boaters, not to mention the many businesses and governments that have benefited from the technology. But GPS has also been used as a tool for stalkers and as GPS capabilities become increasingly integrated into products and vehicles they could also easily be used by criminals and oppressive governments.
Networked-Computerized Cars – To many people in technology, the idea of having computers control more of the vital functions of a car is bad enough (no one wants a Blue Screen of Death while they’re going 65 MPH on the highway). But when you tie these same computer systems into cell, Bluetooth and other potentially open networks, the potential for things to go wrong multiplies quickly. No wonder people are so nostalgic for old muscle cars.
Anonymity Tools – Anonymity tools are a vital resource in the pursuit of freedom and privacy around the world, making it possible for dissidents in oppressive countries to fight for freedom and also letting web users surf without the fear of privacy invasions. But these same tools can also be used by criminals and terrorists seeking to avoid detection.
Cybernetic Implants – For many people in the world, cybernetic implants offer the promise of restored sight, hearing and mobility, and for those on the bleeding edge of technology they show the way to an improved human race. However, the potential for abuse of these technologies can be scary, from everything to super-soldier military implants to privacy invading government and corporate implants to just the plain fact that something as unreliable as computing technology is being placed into a human body.