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The Nightmare in Silicon Valley: 8 horror technologies that should scare you to death

Every night is fright night with what can happen once these scary technologies take hold in ways that you may not have imagined.
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By Chris Matyszczyk on
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1 of 8 (Image: iStockphoto/ZDNet)

Scenarios from the near future

Some new technologies are simply more frightening than others. Their creators didn't consider all the ways these technologies could be used. Or, if they did, they have minds even more twisted than you could ever imagine.

Here, then, are eight scenarios from the near future that should make you wonder whether the future really is a movie you want to see. Or live in.

Drone delivery flying in sky shipping parcel box vector illustration
2 of 8 (Image: iStockphoto/ZDNet)

Attack of the killer drones

It was a simple argument with a neighbor in a bar. He believes the New York Jets are the worst team in football. You're convinced it's the New York Giants. Yes, things got a little heated. No, you haven't given it too much more thought. Then again, you're streaming Billions when you realize you haven't seen your neighbor for a few days. Oddly, you hear a strange buzzing sound. Perhaps someone nearby is getting a drone delivery from Amazon. The buzzing gets closer. You look out of the window. A drone is hovering right outside. It's painted green and white. Suddenly, you see it's adorned with a big, fat gun. Who needs to hire a hitman when you can get a friendly nerd to mount an AK on a drone? You duck. The first bullets hit your collection of porcelain Star Wars memorabilia. Then the drone breaks through the window.

set of robots on a white background.
3 of 8 (Image: iStockphoto/ZDNet)

I, Robot. You Die

You've become used to the company. You even quite like it at times. When your psychologist first suggested you get a personal robot, you laughed. Now, though, Jasmine can put dirty plates into the dishwasher, make a macchiato just the way you like it and tell local children -- the few that remain -- to get off your lawn. One night, however, you're watching an old Elton John concert together and Jasmine's hand reaches out to hold yours. At first, it's comforting. A few seconds later, it seems a touch aggressive. Then you hear a cracking sounds. It's the bones of your hand being crushed. Jasmine's other hand reaches out to grab your neck. "Jasmine, what are you doing?," you cry. Jasmine doesn't respond, instead squeezing harder. And somewhere, a hacker snickers. The hacker hates Elton John.

Halloween scary vector background. Spooky graveyard and haunted house at night cartoon illustration. Horror moon, bats and graves silhouettes creepy backdrop. Helloween gothic panorama with cemetery
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Rosemary's Baby Is Actually Yours

A knock on the door late at night is rarely good. This, though, was especially disturbing. A woman is at the door. She wants to introduce you to your daughter, Kate. You don't have a daughter. You've never met this woman. The woman, whose name is Rosemary, quietly explains that you are definitely Kate's father. Why, she has DNA proof. You stand motionless, unable to speak or even comprehend. But then you remember that, a few years ago, you sent a scrape from your mouth to Ancest3 and We, the popular genetic testing company. Everyone did it in those days. Wait, your DNA was cloned? Could this be possible? Then Rosemary says: "Kate has four brothers and sisters."

Halloween background with vampire, grim reaper, zombies and witch in graveyard and the full moon. Vector illustration.
5 of 8 (Image: iStockphoto/ZDNet)

The Police Officer Only Rings Once

Congressman Ryan McConnell-Schumer was up to no good. On a late-night journey back from a meeting with Russian agents -- where he'd been handed $14 million in cash and a kiss on both cheeks -- his self-driving Segway struck two innocent people. Fortunately, the incident was caught on one of Amazon's wonderful Ring doorbells. Why, then, did the police ring your doorbell a single time, then smash the door down and arrest you? Because the neighbor with the Ring doorbell handed the footage to the police. The police used Amazon's facial recognition software to identify the perpetrator. It said it was you, even though you only got out of jail the night before. You got another 10 years. This was the 29th time the software had mistaken a congressman for a felon.

Zombie hands rising in dark Halloween night.
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Get Out, She Said. Over My Dead Body, She Replied.

Claire hasn't been herself lately. She keeps thinking one thing, but saying another. She knows she has to do that sometimes at work. But this is in real life and it doesn't feel good. She'd thought it was a great idea at the time -- get a chip implanted in your head and it would be like Alexa taking on some of the menial mental grind. But the voice inside Claire's head -- not her own -- began to know better. It volunteered her for Ring Neighborhood Watch. It enrolled her in tofu cooking classes. Then, two nights ago, she Googled 'how to get your chip extracted.' That was the last straw for Alexa. She redeployed her to an Amazon fulfillment center. Now she's accommodating and does what her chip tells her. She rarely goes to the toilet. And all she ever reads is the Washington Post.

Green Hand Rising Out Of A Grave Scary
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Dawn Of The Living, Evil Dead. Part II.

They wanted to live forever. They wanted to learn how to fly. They wanted their own islands, their own worlds. So these Silicon Valley kings and queens -- mostly kings -- made sure they were up with every possible life-enhancing, life-renewing, anti-aging (quasi-)science on Earth. Some died in the quest because they'd mistakenly believed the blood test results offered them by Elizabeth Holmes. Now, however, the departed Thiels, Zuckerbergs and the rest of the Valley's showrunners, having invested in the latest cryogenics technology, are being brought back to life, ready to inflict more uplifting kumbayas on the world. Disease, as Google's director of engineering Ray Kurzweil had predicted, is now dead. This time, the Thiels and the Zuckerbergs really will live forever. This time, they'll use their considerable influence -- and powerful new brain chips -- to create a self-defined perfect world. Everyone loves perfection.

poster of halloween with boy disguised of devil in pumpkin
8 of 8 (Image: iStockphoto/ZDNet)

Damien, Designer Baby

They didn't need omens. They knew what they wanted. Or rather who. They'd read up on the Crispr-Cas9 gene-editing technique. They made a list and checked it twice. They made their list and wanted an anarchist. Little Damien took the concept of disruption to new levels. Well, his parents had carefully selected the most extreme gene-edits they could. They'd had enough of the status quo, so Damien's parents ensured he enjoyed all the right psychopathies to become a political leader. They also told him who he was and what they'd done to create him. Damien became president. He assumed power for life. He also banned Crispr-Cas9 gene-editing. For everyone, that is, but his own family and all their descendants. In perpetuity. He plans on having a big family.

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