These days, the world runs on technology. It’s likely that you can’t wake up, work, communicate with loved ones or even relax without some sort of tech device. Yet, modern society’s heavy reliance on advanced tech has many people worried about the future: What happens if all that tech backfires – or worse, disappears entirely?
If you are prone to imagining technology-related doomsday scenarios, this post is for you. We’ll explain how five of the most common tech apocalypses could happen – and why they probably won’t.
Power Grid Hacked
The nation’s power grid is targeted by coordinated hacking, which causes blackouts across the country, leaving more than 325 million Americans without electricity.
Hacker groups exist, and their work is rarely beneficial. Some hacker groups are run by governments and act as machines for cyber war; others are chaos engines, who work to undermine established institutions for the sake of confusion and anarchy. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be difficult for either of these types of entities to launch an attack on a power grid – and because of the interconnectedness of modern grids, if a small, local grid goes down, it could take several of the surrounding grids down with it.
Fortunately, because the United States is so large, there are eight separate, regional power grids. To bring down power across the U.S., hackers would need to launch massive, simultaneous attacks on each one of these grids, which is a major undertaking. Plus, many of the grids already have effective security tech in place to prevent such an event.
Wall Street E-bombed
An electromagnetic pulse weapon released in lower Manhattan causes equipment failures and power outages across Wall Street, effectively shutting down the country’s financial markets.
EMP devices aren’t science fiction; they exist to create extremely high-frequency signals that transform electronics into bricks. That includes data storage that do not rely on magnetic or optical devices. Even worse, EMPs erase all evidence of their use, meaning authorities wouldn’t be able to trace a weapon used for this purpose.
While this scenario isn’t unlikely, it has been prepared for. The financial industry is better than most at protecting its assets, which means that most data on Wall Street has more than a few emergency response plans, all of which include backing up their data religiously. Those particularly concerned over EMP strikes might consider installing a modular data center in a welded-steel box, which will keep it protected from even major pulses.
The world wakes up one morning to find a 404 error message on Google’s homepage. All Google services have disappeared from the web.
Every second, Google processes 40,000 search queries – but search is only a small part of Google’s services. Gmail has more than 1 billion active monthly users, and more than 2 million people rely on AdSense for income. Android smartphones, GPS maps, web videos and more would crash, leaving many people listless. Worse, Google’s competitors, like Yahoo and Bing, simply aren’t prepared to handle that much traffic, so many other websites on the internet would fall, too.
It’s not unheard of for disgruntled employees or ambitious hackers to mess up Google. In fact, hackers did successfully install an encrypted backdoor in the Google network in 2010. However, that attack hardly put a dent in Google’s operations – and more, that was almost a decade ago. Since then, Google has beefed up its security significantly. Human error is always a risk, which is why even home users should have max security antivirus software installed on their networks, but it’s unlikely that a single attack could obliterate Google entirely.
Internet Shut Down
This time, it isn’t just Google. The entire internet seems to be malfunctioning as users are redirected all over the web before pages start disappearing one by one.
The beauty of the internet is its diversity – both in the type of content available and in how it is stored and transmitted. The internet does not exist in one place; it doesn’t even exist on one type of technology. That great variety and redundancy make it incredibly difficult to attack the entire internet with anything short of an Act of God.
Bots Fight Back
Vainly, humans successfully create artificial sentience and build a veritable army of intelligent bots to serve our whims. Unfortunately, with sentience robots gain a will of their own, and they fight to establish their dominance over our world.
Most experts believe the singularity – i.e. the moment when machines are smarter and more capable than humankind – is an inevitability, but it is unlikely that such an event will occur in our lifetimes. There’s no guarantee that computers will be antagonistic toward us, but we should look to how humans treat the rest of nature and prepare to be tread on the same way. When machine sentience does develop, humans need to maintain some sort of edge over machines, and through this, we will avoid doom.