Technology: Where do we draw the digital line in the sand?


Technology surrounds us everyday, and for the most part, makes our lives easier and more efficient. Need to contact someone? Send a text. Want to do your food shopping? Use an app. Lose weight and be more active? There’s an app for that, and even a device you can wear too! The technology we use is endless and most of us would be lost without it. We no longer live in a world where we have to remember phone numbers or look at maps, because they’re readily available for us in the palm of our hand. We’re reliant, and increasingly so, on the comfort of how easy technology makes our lives.

But what happens when technology goes further, do we lose our privacy and our ability to disconnect? Do we have issues with the ethics behind some technology? Are we just apprehensive and worried about where it could take us? Or perhaps we’re scared of how the future might look and if we can keep up?

I think, it’s a mixture of all three. In a world where driverless cars and Robot hotels are no longer a product of a science fiction film is it any wonder that we as a species are a little bit apprehensive to accept some of these technologies in to our world?

Now, we can rule out an ‘I, Robot’ situation and the future certainly does not look like a scene from ‘Terminator’ either.

The astonishing developments in AI are really rather incredible.  The AI of today actually has nothing in common with the human brain and works on a basis of ‘if this, then that’ instruction. It cannot think for itself, it cannot feel emotion and it cannot operate in the same way that humans do.

The question is, when are we too reliant on technology, and how beneficial is it to us?

My example of the reliance on technology is the recent report made by Samsung, warning users not to discuss personal information in front of their Smart TV. A recent study showed that when the voice activation feature is active, the TV listens to what is being said, and this information may be shared with Samsung or third parties. 

So are we too relaxed and trusting of these technologies? Is some new technology damaging to our private information and to us? So, is this where technology has gone too far? Or is it simply that we need better security and more regulation on the uses of our information?

With driverless cars expected to be the norm on our roads by 2030, how do we change our behavior so drastically and accept the new technology? Driverless cars throw out new challenges for regulation and security; for example, will all of our movements in our cars be tracked, and can we take over the controls if there is an emergency situation? I have to admit; I feel really mixed about this, on one hand I would really miss driving my own car, but in contrast I also think about how much more I could get done! I could be reading a book, writing or relaxing to music on my journeys instead.

These technological developments don’t just mean a changing future for cars and hotels, but also huge leaps in the medical fields too! We now live in a world where 3D printing can save lives and enhance others. Wearable technology is helping people get in shape, iPhones are connecting with ‘diagnostic dongles’ to identify HIV and Syphilis and ‘Peek’ is an app which is leading the way in smartphone based eye examinations. 

I think in a world of emerging technologies we have to be open to the developments on our doorstep. Some may be a little scary but there’s so much to look forward to and so much constantly being developed that can enhance our lives and enhance the world we live in!

Written by 

Katherine Thomson