Technology is a beautiful thing. It has pushed the human race in ways no one could have imagined, but at the same time has put humanity into morally questionable situations that have often led to some of history’s most traumatic events.
Looking back at Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece of cinema “2001: A Space Odyssey,” its opening sequence “The Dawn of Man” captures the human dilemma of technology. It can be used as a tool or it can be a weapon to destroy.
This conflict in man has existed since the invention of the wheel. With the Industrial Revolution came new and innovative technology but also mass pollution. After World War II came nuclear energy but also its horrific symbol, the atomic bomb. Today, there are too many technological achievements to count, but the biggest consequence to the 21st century is a loss of privacy.
As of 2019, millions of people have either a Google Home or an Amazon Alexa installed into their homes. These devices can do almost any everyday job one can imagine. But this kind of technology has also led to opportunities for hackers to go into these devices and disrupt a person’s privacy.
If someone was to hack into a Google Home, Amazon Echo or Alexa, her or she could see and listen to everything that goes on in a person’s house. Also, with these voice activated devices being almost the precursor of artificial intelligence that can possibly lead to these machines not only affecting our privacy but our entire lives as well.
If people are not careful, the world could be looking at a Skynet from “The Terminator,” HAL 9000 from “2001” or Ultron from the Marvel Universe.
Privacy has not only been an issue with our new devices but with social media as well. Facebook has been under fire with its misuse of user privacy by selling the user’s data to corporations without the user’s consent. It was situations like this that put Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in front of Congress to justify Facebook’s actions.
It is not that these new innovations in technology are a bad thing. It’s just that they also leave some important concerns that need to be addressed. This harkens back to the early days of the Patriot Act, where the government wanted to keep better track of incoming terrorist attacks after Sept. 11 but the act ultimately became a morally unethical and dangerous invasion of privacy.
As Howard Stark in “Iron Man 2” once said, “Everything is achievable through technology.” That is true both for the good and for the bad. When it comes to privacy, all one has to do is simply be cautious about any new technological advancement. That does not mean that one should simply reject new technology and be completely off the grid. All people have to do is be cautious, intellectual and above all else have questions in regard to new technology. We need to read past the headlines, know when it is the right time to use the new tech, when to turn it off and be careful with what we share on social media and other personal accounts because one can never know when a hacker is waiting.