There are two sides to every technological advancement. Those who love it can talk endlessly about all the good technology can do in the world; those who are wary can keep harping on the inevitability of bad things. And it looks like we’re about to start on another new debate, thanks to Apple. While the company is often rumored to be doing awesome new things with tech, like waterproofing the iPhone 7 or implementing a Force Touch home button, the Silicon Valley co. just did something a little questionable: They just gained a patent that is equal parts exciting and terrifying.
Apple’s new patent is for a system that would use infrared technology to send and receive data. Decoded: It’s a way to send and receive data with large amounts of people. The technology is being advertised as an effective way to stop bootleg recordings at concerts. At venues where picture or video is prohibited, an infrared signal could be sent out that would “temporarily disable the device’s recording function based on the command,” according to the patent. The technology could also be used to beam information to everybody in the crowd. It could be especially helpful in emergency situations when it’s necessary to send out an evacuation plan to a large group of people.
This all sounds great and fine, until you realize its potential darker side. Critics have said that this technology could be used to shut down coverage of protests, which would be in direct opposition of our rights to free speech and a free press. It’s not that hard to imagine a dystopian future where the mass spread of information is shut down by infrared beams.
It’s been said before, but it bears repeating with every new technological advancement that we make: Technology is neither good nor bad. It’s the way we use it that determines its worth. Let’s hope that Apple decides to use its patent only for good — because like Uncle Ben told a young Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
What do you think about Apple’s patent? Let us know @BritandCo!
(h/t The Guardian, photo via Getty)