Technology is evolving faster than ever. It seemed just yesterday we were in awe at the release of the first internet capable computer, and now we’re able to communicate with artificial intelligence, as if it were human. Technological advances like self-lacing shoes, hover boards, and the Google Home Mini were science fiction fantasies not too long ago.
Technologically speaking, we’re not as far from the Utopian societies we once dreamed of. Although this future sounds promising, is there something missing? In our quest to optimize society, have we since overlooked such inalienable rights? The answer is yes. One problem we have heavily ignored is privacy. Something as simple as just having a conversation without it being monitored, is very close to being extinct. For this, we have to ask ourselves, is evolving technology a problem?
For a moment, consider some of the world’s recent technological advancements. Products like: the Tesla Model X, the world’s first self-driving vehicle, the iPhone X, capable of facial and retinal processing, and the Google Home Mini, an artificial intelligence for the home. All these technologies appear as if they make our lives easier and more convenient. But for a minute, play devil’s advocate.
The Tesla Model X, is equipped with some of the world’s most advanced GPS systems, capable of targeting our every move (Woodyard, 2013). Tesla’s vehicles run on an operating system developed, observed, and controlled by Tesla. So, if your car was stolen, Tesla has the ability to take control of the car, and simply drive it back to you (Woodyard, 2013).
This is an extremely thoughtful and helpful feature, but what some don’t realize is that in having this feature, you also don’t have 100% control of your vehicle. It also means that you are being tracked every moment you’re in your car (Woodyard, 2013). Utilizing the same cynical train of thought, we can deduce that the iPhone has everyone’s fingerprint and facial scan, and the Google Home Mini effectively monitors every conversation that takes place in our home.
These devices, if they wanted to, could track every single moment of our lives. To some, this notion seems overly far-fetched, but they don’t know that similar surveillance systems are already in place. For example, we use our computers to research articles, watch videos, and shop online. However, when we do this, businesses and the government, are simultaneously gathering information on us.
Despite keeping these realities silent, these institutions insist they are doing it for our own good. Companies claim that they only perform reconnaissance on consumers for marketing purposes. They state that they use this information to specifically tailor advertisements and marketing campaigns directly for a particular consumer, so that you’re able to find what you need as easily as possible (Tynan, 2012). In addition, the government states that they only scan through private texts as a matter of national defense, in order to stop impending threats like 9/11 (Reuters, 2014). Sure, the government stays ahead of the curve this way, but they’re essentially taking away everyone’s freedom in the process.
With the use of new devices, people are slowly compromising their freedom and privacy, for convenience. The worst part is that consumers have made this decision without even knowing it. With the use of this technology, we have been, and are still being- “watched”. Continuing on this trajectory, it won’t be long before everyone will be surveilled at all times, until there is essentially no notion of “behind closed doors.”
With all this said, technology is deeply integrated into all of our lives. With every passing day, technology plays a bigger role in the way we learn and the way we live. It’s important for us to recognize the serious dangers they pose, and to understand the enemy behind these instruments. The products themselves are not the issue, it’s the weaponization of these products against consumers that poses a serious threat. Our governments, businesses, and other intelligence agencies are the ones that need to be stopped. Lobbying these bodies can help consumers take back their freedom to allow us to live harmoniously with the use of technology.
Darren M. Vannitamby
Reuters, T. (2014, January 16). NSA collects nearly 200 million text messages a day: report. kkkkkRetrieved February 4, 2018, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/nsa-collects-millions-of-kkkkktext-messages-globally-the-guardian-1.2499963
Tynan, D. (2012, February 16). Just how bad is online tracking? Retrieved February 4, 2018, kkkkkfrom https://www.itworld.com/article/2832389/it-management/just-how-bad-is-online-kkkkktracking-.html
Woodyard, C., & ODonnell, J. (2013, March 25). Your car may be invading your privacy. kkkkkRetrieved February 4, 2018, from kkkkkhttps://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2013/03/24/car-spying-edr-data-kkkkkprivacy/1991751/
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