What is really real?
The boundaries between science fiction and non-fiction are blurring rapidly. The advances in science and technology are so fast that our ability to understand what is really real is diminished. There are three main reasons behind it. First is the fact that with the nearly complete saturation of classical market, investor money is flowing to high risk areas like meat replacements, space voyages, life extending startups etc. The influx of money to fringes of science and technology is flowing rapidly. Recently, Lux Capital, a New York-based venture capital firm, has raised more than $1 billion across two new funds to back companies on “the cutting edge of science.” The firm raised $500 million for its sixth flagship early-stage fund and another $550 million for an opportunity fund focused on growth-stage investments. Limited partners include global foundations, university endowments, and tech billionaires. And with the money flowing in, those startups are doing some really awesome work.
That is the second reason, the new breed of startups is really good; it is almost unreal.
There is a Tesla car orbiting our solar system in a private company’s space craft. Even this sentence would sound absurd and far-fetched a few years ago. Here is another one: Burger King began to sell whoppers with lab-made meat which doesn’t have any meat. Another one is a startup called Samumed, founded by Turkish people. It announced that it began trials for the potential treatment of Alzheimer’s and knee osteoarthritis, along with a cure for solid tumors. Editing the epigenome, which turns our genes on and off, could be the “elixir of life,” wrote Erika Hayasaki of Tech Review, after discussing how people that will live up to 130 years old have already been born with the scientist Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte.
We live in exciting times; that is for sure.
However, we should be more vigilant than ever in this environment, because with the real news so akin to science fictions stories, it is very easy that fake news spread. The biggest example of it was Theranos, of course. The founder, Elizabeth Holmes, conned even the U.S. military and swindled billions of dollars.
Losing money is very bad, but it is not the worst. The con artists have much advanced tools at their dispose. They can meddle with the election results or they can sell you a cure that will kill you quicker. All with the help of enough technology and science that you will not understand.
For example: According to the Guardian, a group calling itself “Genesis II Church of Health and Healing” plans to convene at a hotel resort in Washington state on Saturday to promote a “miracle cure” that claims to cure 95 percent of all diseases in the world by making adults and children, including infants, drink industrial bleach. The church’s scientists tell that the “sacramental protocols” sold by the group can eliminate 95 percent of the world’s diseases, including malaria, ebola, dengue fever, all types of cancer, diabetes, autism, HIV and multiple sclerosis. It sells 4oz bottles of sodium chlorite as “sacramental cleansing water” for $15.
These con artists use chatbots, deep fake videos, complicated charts and pseudo-scientific explanations to con people.
What is the solution of not being conned?
Being aware that such people exist and to double check, or even triple check every bit of bizarre news before acting on them, could be a good start.