In this week’s spotlight I wish to remind you of some of the threats that exist in today’s world of ever advancing technology. In my book, Gotcha! The Subordination of Free Will, I addressed issues like televisions that watch you, automobiles that can be taken over remotely while you’re behind the wheel, devices that listen in to your conversations, free flashlight apps for your phone that track your every move, cloning devices that copy data from your computer or cell phone in an instant, and so forth. None of these devices are science fiction and they represent just the tip of the proverbial iceberg as I discovered when I finally decided it was time to quit writing Gotcha! at approximately 120,000 words.
I also addressed the Big Brother concept utilized to manipulate our thinking such as the use of social media, profiling, and the like—and all of this long before Cambridge Analytica gained front-page news status. I often post on my Facebook page new research leading to more gadgets that can wash away your memories and implant false ones.
One my favorite reviews of Gotcha! stated this, “Where 1984 reached into the future to tell a story of what would happen in the world, Gotcha! reaches into the past and explains how they did it without you knowing it.” So this past week I posted the Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant scandal story informing us all that these devices could be controlled by someone other than yourself and outside your home via a subliminal message. Okay, maybe Alexa is instructed to buy a new giant screen TV using your Amazon account to pay for it. This sort of thing probably occurred to most people who read about the scandal. However, as we become more reliant on our smart toys to run our lives, we begin sharing alarm codes, bank details, credit card info, etc., and the danger grows exponentially.
Smarter than Us?
So what are we to do? Many of us already depend on our smart phones for the phone numbers of our contacts. After all, why bother memorizing so many numbers when it’s so easy to store them on our device? Many of us also depend upon our GPS to navigate from place to place. We have note takers, notification prompts, alarm clocks, email, social networking, and so much more that we have integrated into our lives that it’s a fair question to ask, “How do we manage without them?”
As humans we are fallible, we forget things, we lose things, we can’t know everything, etc. and these smart devices make up for our fallibility. Today our smart phone can enable a quick Internet search that literally provides us with the advantage that could only have been known 50 years ago by carrying everywhere with us a complete set of encyclopedias together with a good dictionary.
Indeed, it is our human vulnerabilities that make the smart devices so desirable, and those who make them know this. Can we really live without them then? Probably not—not in today’s fast paced world. So again the question, “What are we to do?”
Becoming Wise About Our Smart Tools
For me, it’s all about using the technology by knowing its abilities and limitations. It’s no longer the days of old when you could afford to ignore all the capabilities that your new VHS player offered, after all, all you wanted to do was play your movies. No—today we must take the time to learn how these devices work and disable those features that might track our every move, or place an order with Amazon using our credit card. We must understand how these devices can be used against us and do what we can to stop that.
Bottom line, we’re going to have to be smart about our smart toys.
My thoughts anyway, what are yours?