There is a great ongoing debate over whether technology is inherently good or bad, positive or negative. When you break a piece of technology down to its core, can it be one or the other? Or is technology really a neutral tool that is dependent on how you use it?
Is Technology Bad for You?
As a tech company, 7T is focused on highlighting the benefits of technology and helping businesses develop custom software solutions. However, we are also aware of the responsibility to combat the negative effects of technology that could accompany its creation and use. For instance, consider:
- Cybersecurity risks – Businesses must take care to safeguard their data, especially when it concerns clients’ personal information. Proper data governance, necessary encryption and security measures must be in place to prevent cybersecurity attacks. In addition to a data protection plan, it is prudent to develop a security and data breach response plan in case a cyber attack does occur.
- Data privacy and the protection of personal information – It is not acceptable to mislead or entice users to accept permissions and trade unnecessary personal information in order to use your product or service. This is particularly important if they are not aware of what they are agreeing to. Convenience is not equitable to infringing on personal privacy. Besides personal ethics and industry standards, there are also legal regulations, such GDPR and CCPA to help protect private information.
- Prejudices that can be imbued in code – Technologies such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence have drawn criticism due to their tendency to perpetuate “the norm” which is often of a majority viewpoint. Racist or prejudicial undertones can be combated by taking care to include diversity within the data sets that are used to train algorithms. Additionally, diversity within teams — from company leadership to development, testing and production — can also help to combat prejudices in programming.
- Discriminatory design – Much thought has been put into the topic of discriminatory design, where products are tailored toward an average or majority, able-bodied user. Instead, it is recommended to take an inclusive, rather than exclusive, approach to design. This is not to say that products can’t be designed for, or enjoyed by, targeted user bases. Rather, by considering diversity of race, cultures, abilities, and more in the development process, we can ensure that users of all kinds are able to participate and enjoy the benefits of technology.
- Technology addiction – With how much technology is imbued in our daily lives, we have to ensure that we moderate our technology use in order to maintain a balanced lifestyle. “Too much of a good thing” can quickly become unhealthy.
As with anything, it is possible to focus too much on either the negative aspects or the potential for good. However, it is also difficult to find something that does not have a combination of both. We all share digital responsibility, whether it is in the creation of technology, the use of technology, or mutual accountability.
Technology as a Tool: Combating the Coronavirus
There is a great deal of good that technology can be used for, especially in times of crisis, natural disasters, or as we’ve seen recently, global pandemics like COVID-19. So how are we using the tools at our disposal?
- Coordinate relief efforts – Think of how difficult it would be to manage relief efforts without technology. Scheduling health care workers, supply chain management and production, coordinating online donations and taking care of patients is all made possible by technological advancements.
- Staying Informed – News broadcasts, online articles, websites and social media are all pitching in to keep citizens up to date with the latest news. Digital communications have shifted dramatically over the years to accommodate for new abilities and needs. It would be challenging, if not near impossible, to coordinate a national response if we didn’t have a way to broadcast information quickly to the masses.
- Alleviate fear – Additionally, the fear of the unknown is lessened when people have information about what they can do to prepare and help stop the spread. However, we still need to acknowledge the ability for the news media to prey on fear and stir up panic. With the declining interest in paid news media, news outlets are jumping on the chance to glue eyeballs to screens and drive up clicks. However, other people are using technology to share tips that focus on self-care, ways to adjust to a “new normal,” and methods to combat anxiety.
- Track the spread – One of the most useful benefits of technology has been finding ways to monitor the spread of the coronavirus. Additionally, researchers are utilizing the technology at their disposal to learn how to combat COVID-19 while searching for useful treatment and prevention options. The usefulness of communicating with the public is paired with the responsibility of sharing truthful information and not inciting panic. The spread of misinformation can be detrimental and put additional strain on an already adversely impacted national infrastructure.
Benefits of Technology
For a debate on technology, after accounting for the potential negative effects of technology and looking at some current applications, it is only fair to consider all the ways that technology benefits our daily lives. We utilize technology for all sorts of things, from communication and performing tasks, to learning, accessing information and so much more. Here are a few more current examples:
- Long-distance communication – At a time when our country (and the world at large) is sheltering in place, we are lucky to have so many means of communication at our disposal. Whether it is keeping up with friends, checking in on family members or coordinating with coworkers, we are finding new ways to keep connected. Virtual games, meetings and calls are forcing us to actually make the effort to check in on one another and listen for an answer to the question, “How are you?”
- Remote Work – Thanks to available digital resources, many companies have found that they are able to continue operations in a remote way. It is safe to say that many companies would be in a much more dire situation if not for their machinery and digital devices. Software, online resources, operation management systems, video conferencing tools and more are ramping up their offerings to help businesses through this strange and challenging time.
- Shopping and Business – By shifting to drive through and delivery only or relying on online orders through websites and apps, retailers are stepping up to the challenge and adapting their services. Additionally, essential businesses are implementing social distancing measures while offering curbside pickup and other creative alternatives to in-person shopping.
- Moving School Online – In the past month, it appears that schools have undergone the largest coordinated online education effort to date. They didn’t have much time to adapt to online learning but they are coming up with creative ideas to reach their students and continue supporting their education.
- Religious and Social Events – With large social gatherings as one of the first things to go, churches, religious organizations, conventions and much more have also shifted to online video streaming and offering events online. While it is not the same as being in person, they serve as another way to stay connected while quarantined.
- Leisure – With some extra free time potentially at your disposal, what are you doing to pass the time? Whether you turn to video streaming platforms, online gaming, home exercise or picking up a new hobby, there are many options available. The internet is an enormous resource for activities for personal enrichment or simply as a way to fill your day.
The Great Technology Debate
In the end, technology can be seen as a tool that can be used for good or for bad. It is up to us to make sure that it’s used for good. Additionally, we can come up with new ways to use technology in a positive way that improves the lives of those who use it.
If you are interested in learning more about how technology can benefit your business, the team at 7T is ready to help! We offer services relating to cloud and system integration, mobile app and custom software development, data governance, technology consulting and more. To discuss your development project, reach out to our team today.