Upload is a sci-fi comedy set in the future that focuses on the premise that humans can upload their consciousness to a virtual world, essentially allowing people to become immortal. The idea is interesting in itself, but more interesting are its visions of future tech, from autonomous drones to computerised supermarkets. In this mini series I will focus on the feasibility of a range of different future technologies predicted in the show.
In Upload, Nora’s father is dying of ‘vape lung’ and scenes show hospitals with dedicated vape wards implying that vaping has caused serious health problems across the USA. The show's creator Greg Daniels originally put this in for a joke, although as filming progressed a number of high profile vape incidents gripped America.
The uptake of electronic cigarettes has been immense. Originally marketed as a healthy alternative or way to stop smoking, their usage has exploded in recent years as well as the controversy surrounding them. There are now over 36,000 vape shops in the United States and 8000 in the UK . The BBC highlighted that the number of global users is set to increase to 55 million by next year in a market worth over $22 billion.
A recent study of over 120 people by Ohio State showed the mouths of daily vapers had huge amounts of infection-causing bacteria, increasing the risk of gum disease, tooth loss and cancer. In her ted talk, biobehavioral scientist Suchitra Krishnan said that most people believe they are just inhaling water vapour which couldn't be further from the truth. Vapers are actually inhaling aerosols that contain solvents, alcohol and toxic metals such as chromium and lead. We still don’t know the long term health consequences of inhaling these chemicals. E Cigarettes have also been associated with hundreds of deaths amongst mostly young people. This is commonly referred to as ‘vape lung’.
E Cigarettes fit in perfectly with the addictive nature of younger people. Vaping products are marketed to be attractive to this generation, having sleek designs with some even being able to pair with smartphones. There are now over 15,000 flavours with many tempting names such as ‘berry burst’ and ‘skittles’. Vape companies such as Juul have come under fire for purposely targeting younger people with social media campaigns. If you look at the location of many vape shops there appears to be clusters around schools and college campuses. The US Surgeons report stated that E cigarette usage in teenagers had increased by 900% between 2011 and 2015 with 3.6 million teens estimated to have tried vaping.
E Cigarettes have not been around long enough for scientists to completely understand how they may or may not affect our health. Vaping is a viable option to stop people smoking but it should not be the new form of smoking. There needs to be more regulation especially against targeting young people as well as more scientific studies so people can make better informed decisions before potentially shortening their lives.