Ubiquitous Future - Sci-fi Utopia or Orwellian Nightmare?
Ubiquitous Future - Sci-fi Utopia or Orwellian Nightmare?
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  • 승인 2006.10.01 12:01
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Imagine a card, a thick fat card covered in logos and symbols. This card has your name and photo on it, naturally, because its yours. It might be similar to cards you have now in your wallet, except this card doesn't go in your wallet. It is your wallet. It's your checking account too. It allows you to ride the subway or take a taxi at your convenience. If you choose, it can be a credit card. It proves your nationality and whether or not you can drive. Acting as a key, it determines which cars you can drive as well. You can use this card to check out books from the library, book tickets for KTX, or vote in the next election. It plays MP3s, and if you hold it up to your ear you can talk to your friends on it. It will lock your house, control your TV, and turn on your lights at home. Such conveniences could become a reality on the Korean peninsula soon. The ubiquitous future idea takes disparate elements from RFID technologies, wireless networking, distributed computing, and digital security to weave together a totally new way of living. It sounds like science fiction, but many things have sounded like science fiction at first. In fact, sci-fi has always had a close relationship with science itself. For instance, in 1870 Jules Verne published a story, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which included what was essentially a nuclearpowered submarine even though neither nuclear power nor submarines existed at that time. In 1955 science fiction became reality with the first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, which was named after the submarine in Verne's book. A wise man once said that science fiction is the collective imagination of the entire world's consciousness, and therefore inevitably sets the goals that science itself tries to achieve. And if science fiction sets the goals, South Korea is close to achieving many of them. While there are many types and styles of science fiction, most of them have several things in common. The future depicted in these books and films usually includes instantaneous communication within a universal network of mobile and static devices. Keys, locks, doors, personal flying cars, weapons, and governments are fully computerized. The computers that are present in every aspect of life are of course amazingly fast and surprisingly small. Everyone uses complex electronic identification for everything in their life from buying milk at the store to logging into their virtual job. Very often robots feature prominently in these stories, in helpful servant-like roles or more menacing soldier types. Hand held mobile devices that can communicate instantaneously with anyone in the world and access any piece of information on the Internet are already emerging in the Korean market. In addition, the push for Ubiquitous Computing in all aspects of life in Korea predicates that the network in Korea will become more complex and fluid than any other. Samsung's recent development of laptops with solid-state hard drives, which increase laptop seek speeds by 200 times, bring the country one step closer to the perfect science-fiction-level computer. The Korean technology industry is already well-known in the world for its excellent LCD monitors, high quality memory, and being the first to produce a next-generation Blu-Ray HDDVD player. If any country has the resources to produce the perfect computer-in-your-ear of science fiction fame, it is Korea. The Korean robotics industry is also very ambitious. Reports in American news sources repeatedly mention Korean industry's goals for domestic, police, and military robots within the next five years. Most surprising are the so-called English speaking and teaching robots that are planned for home use. The 2000 blockbuster movie A.I., which featured a story of a robot boy in a future full of robotic workers, looks to become a reality first in Korea. There are, however, some possible drawbacks to a ubiquitous future. Computerized transactions that people engage in even today are logged. Bank activity, credit card usage location, date, and amount grocery purchases, library book check-out history, and many other transactions that involve computers are usually recorded. However, these records are in many different locations and can be hard to gather together. In a ubiquitous society, however, every piece of information that a modern life generates may be logged in a central location. This could mean that each use of the card could add another sentence to the complete story of your life - a story that could be read by anyone with the authority or ability to look. Remember your card Your dependence on this card in a new ubiquitous society is, for lack of a better word, ubiquitous. It may even be difficult to do a simple thing like eating without using your card. Traveling away from your house might be impossible. Now, imagine losing it. It could be like falling off the face of the earth. Your own mother might not even recognize you. Or, imagine having it stolen. Almost every piece of valuable information could be stolen at once. A person's complete identity might be able to be usurped with one little card. In Isaac Asimov's stories of technological utopias, human poverty, war, and famine have all been solved by robots, and people more or less live as they like. In George Orwell's dystopian epic, Big Brother knows all and the Thought Police are always just around the corner. In the Korean peninsula, such futures have yet to be written. Which one will make the transition from fictional dreams to reality

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