For years I have spoken to groups about the development and use of technology, and how it is used, and often misused.
This is not a new phenomena, a product of the modern age. It’s been an issue for as long as man has lived on the earth.
It goes like this –
Tools and devices have been developed by man for millenia – tools such as levers, plows, hammers, etc. Tools to facilitate and improve agriculture, hunting, and other aspects of daily living. Those who invent these tools do so with the intention of the tool fulfilling a specific need or type of need. All nice and good so far.
But… along comes other persons who, with their ill intent and active imagination, fashion other uses for these tools, either as new long-term uses, or as point-in-time uses. Tools that are used to build or shape can be used to destroy or harm. A rope can be used to lift a man to safety or be used to hang him.
Modern technology is no different. Personal computers can be used to create useful data or to destroy it, to build valuable software or malware.
Technology – whether high tech, low tech or no tech – does not and can not discern the intent of the user. It simply obeys. Whether we’re talking about high technology or stone tools, the technology just does whatever it does, blindingly obeying because it has no conscience or self awareness.
In simple terms, technology is a lever to amplify a man’s will. A lever can be used to move a heavy object; a computer can be used to rapidly calculate or communicate. How technology is used is up to the person using it: technology can be used to amplify a benevolent will and accomplish much good, or it can be used to amplify a malevolent will and do much harm.
The use, or misuse, of technology, continues to be a human issue that is not easily discerned by even intelligent systems. Take, for instance, anti-virus programs, firewalls, intrusion detection systems: they are designed to repel ill intent, but the perpetrators of ill will are always one step ahead. As long as evil is permitted to exist in the world, it will always find a way. It is up to the rest of us to do the best we can to be prepared and do what we can to minimize risk.