Are we operating the technology or is it operating us?

11 Oct 11:00 by Anu Malhotra


It’s National Cybersecurity Awareness month in the US and, while I am working on a very relevant role that operates in the realm of Data Privacy in the States, I started to think how much do we know about, or let’s say care about, our own data.

Like many of us, with growing cyber threats and data breaches happening, I have started to think how dependent on technology we have become. I think of a time when I used to remember phone numbers of people and places. Now I don’t even know my own dad’s mobile number because I just have to say his name and my phone will dial it for me. When it comes to birthdays, I rely on Facebook to remind me every morning who I am wishing “happy birthday” to today. We recently heard about the data breach of 50 million Facebook users, most probably including mine too. The day I heard about it, I said out loud “that’s it, I am closing my FB account”. Reality dawned then - how will I wish people "happy birthday” or know when their birthday is in the first place?

I don’t class myself as a complete slave to technology. I mean, come on, I don’t have Alexa to turn on the lights for me or order food for me... yet! But is there such a thing as too much technology? Do we feel that whatever is growing in the tech field is all good for us?

Artificial Intelligence was just a thing some years back that we saw in the movies like I, Robot (I absolutely loved that film!) but today it’s a real thing. There is a cooking robot that can cook an entire meal without you raising a knife. And what about Sophia, the first robot citizen who is speaking about women’s right issues? It’s not all bad to have these scientific advancements.

But how exposed is our privacy and us with these growing technologies? We now pay for stuff without even using our card and pin!But, wasn’t that pin created for our safety in the first place? It is great having devices like Echo in our homes but how do we know what their microphones are listening to and recording? Are we ok with being so dependent on technology that we let it run our lives for us? A book called The Shallows, What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by author Nicholas Carr conveys a message that the Internet is making us stupid and dumber. By being so dependent on our phones, we are losing the ability to concentrate, contemplate and reflect.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a dinosaur. I love technology but, with each cybersecurity issue I read about, I become a little uncertain that all of it is good for us. There is always a plus side to technology advancements that we see proofs of in our daily lives, particularly within medical scienceHowever, I say “before we adopt, let’s stop”, stop and ensure, ensure it’s what we are ok to share as once it's out there, there is no it getting back.

Stay aware.