GUNS ‘N’ ROSES IN TECHNOLOGY
‘Welcome to the jungle’. This could read as an invitation to the ever-evolving world of the technological revolution. In the past we operated technology, now we are integrated within it. Our everyday lives are now immersed with tech interventions in just about everything we do – to lighten our load and better our lives – all working towards turning the jungle to a ‘paradise city’. But the truth is, every rose does have a thorn. Or should I say, every rose has a gun. With every good of technology, the bad and ugly lurks. About two months ago, at around midnight, I get an sms alert of a transaction on my bank account. After a quick chat with my wife, we realised the oddity of this alert, as none of us had transacted. Even as we were speaking to the customer service helpline to report this, another transaction occurred. The bank was quick to put a stop to this and eventually credited the money into the account. This being an incident of a common hack, the fact of security thefts, scams, phishing or whatever it’s called, is also a parallel revolution of sorts. As much as technology is empowering, somewhere vulnerability also resides within it. We tend to trust the technology almost blindly and with it, risk ourselves in the world of cybercrime. According to a study, $US16 billion was stolen from 12.7 million consumers in the US alone during 2014, due to identity theft. Guess, there is no such thing as a 100% secure system. As it appears, for every techie, there is a hacker, for every freedom of use, there is a loss of privacy; for every wonder of artificial intelligence, there is potential of a real job loss. Yes, every rose, does come with a gun. Ironically, in the case of the case of 3D technology, whilst all the good was being developed, someone actually developed a 3D gun, before regulators could step in. The recent scandal of data leaks, election results, breach of trust, loss of privacy, et al, did cast a frown at first but, somehow with some actions to diffuse the ‘gun’, the ‘roses’ continue to bloom. “I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time. We’re now taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” will be, in my view, a response from tech companies for every version of such instances. A constant cat and mouse game of proactive security and security afterthoughts. Artificial intelligence and robots are fascinating. It’s almost like the movies that were once science- ‘fiction’, are now science facts. Elon Musk says the future will be where ‘people will be like house cats fed by computers’. For now, though it’s predicted, 14% of the workforce will have to change jobs by 2030 and 2.2million to 3.1 million jobs could be threatened by just driverless cars. Innovation in automation and robotics etc. are going to happen and the consequences positive and negative are going to work in tandem. Positive impacts or ‘roses’ in medicine, agriculture, education, finance etc. will raise productivity and tackle current issues, however, thoughtful and responsible management of technological innovations would need equal attention to keep the ‘guns’ of job loss, over-dependence, psychological impact, security and identity thefts at bay. History would suggest that we as a race have a tendency to reach an extreme before a sense of realization dawns – be it in climate change, hunting, animal testing, gender and race bias’s etc. We destroy the planet and then decide it’s time to pull back, we hunt animals to near extinction before we realise that we need more of them, we use monkeys in experiments before we realise the cruelty of it. In this journey of planet of the apes to planet of the apps, it would be judicious to produce more roses than guns in technology with an ‘appetite for construction with a vigilance to destruction’.