KnightKrawler MMC 4263

MMC 4263

Week 3:

The Needs of the Many…

This week I felt I may have been on social media a little longer than usual. I had a spoken word event on Saturday so naturally I wanted to promote more to get the word out as much as possible. My favorite “weapon of choice” is Instagram because it tells a story through pictures and words. To my surprise, there was an option to show exactly “how long” you stay on Instagram and it seems as if I average 20 mins a day with my peak times being Tuesday’s and Sunday’s. This information is presented in bar graph form as if looking at metrics when working for a major corporation. That got me wondering, what else does Instagram, (or any other social media app,) know about me?

I must admit I am a bit of a Trekkie so a phrase from Star Trek that Spock always used to say comes to mind while writing this, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” During class we were discussing the pandemic and, how during its onset, the government was trying to find ways to avoid panic and maintain order. Major corporations such as Google and Apple for example employed their massive information networks to be used as surveillance technology. This would help to pinpoint those who were infected at a time when vaccines were scarce, and uncertainty was at an all-time high. It was warned however that when measures like these are taken, it is very difficult to reverse them because this extensive information can be used for other purposes not intended. It could be a benefit to society or be the exact opposite.

Years after the pandemic, there is little talk about the panic that ensued, but there are noticeable differences, especially with social media and apps. Questions that were not necessary for signing up years ago are now present; default settings offer little to no privacy, (if you are not paying attention…you will miss them;) and more information than ever is being collected. Sometimes merely clicking on an ad will result in “multiple suggestions” being offered that were unsolicited. All of this begs the question, “what rights and/or freedoms did people give up unknowingly during the shadow of the pandemic?” Even having initiatives geared towards helping people would seem questionable if the information being used is something that was authorized for a completely different purpose that is not necessary anymore. If general privacy was considered “the needs of the few” and public safety “the needs of the many” only time will tell the scope and depth of what REALLY changed…

References:

Ghosh, D., Abecassis, A., & Loveridge, J., (2020, April 20). Privacy and the Pandemic: Time for a Digital Bill of Rights. Medium. https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/04/20/coronavirus-pandemic-privacy-digital-rights-democracy/

Epic.org (n.d). Social Media Privacy. Medium. https://epic.org/issues/consumer-privacy/social-media-privacy/

Week 2:

Did Video REALLY “Kill” The Radio Star?

This week’s readings focused on the rise of new technological advancements and how they were “predicted” decades and even centuries ago through music, scholars, and even mass terrorists. One of the main questions that kept coming up focused on people becoming more docile and willing to be, “controlled by technology,” giving away their freedoms and being more passive while technology is steadily becoming more complex.

One example of this can be seen in the replacement of workers by machines at many jobs. At first, people spoke more about unfair wages and not making enough money but instead of major corporations adapting to benefit them…they just replaced them with self-checkouts and more “convenient” ways to complete tasks that were originally assigned to human workers. This may end up cutting company costs however it does not help the public and the end result is a staggering amount of individuals who are still out of jobs and completely reliant on the government and others just to survive. In addition to this, not being able to regularly practice skills that are needing to survive in society further diminishes a person chance to “fight back,” even if they wanted to.

Ted Kaczynski aka “The Unabomber” said in his manifesto that “once a technical innovation has been introduced, people usually become dependent on it, so that they can never again do without it, unless it is replaced by some still more advanced innovation. Not only do people become dependent as individuals on a new item of technology, but, even more, the system as a whole becomes dependent on it. (Imagine what would happen to the system today if computers, for example, were eliminated.)”

Similarly, American Historian Lewis Mumford spoke on the ills of technological advancement and how as individuals depend more on it, “society tends to suffer.” He said, “instead of functioning actively man will become a passive, purposeless, ‘machine conditioned animal,’ whose proper functions will either be fed into the machine or strictly limited for the benefit of de-personalized collective organizations.”

While I do agree with some of these philosophies, one exercise we had to do dealt with how musicians express the changing landscape and to me there is no greater example than the song “Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles. The song spoke on how the mediums of music were different and being replaced. Ironically enough, that songs music video was the first music video premiered on MTV in 1981. This begs the question, did the artists know that adapting is the only way to “survive?” Maybe completely refusing to conform to a system is as dangerous as being lethargic and allowing it to devour you. As in everything in life…moderation is key because for better or worse technological advances are here to stay and no one can be quite sure what the future may hold.

References:

Chapman, S. (2017, September 13). The Iphone X proves The Unabomber was right. https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/steve-chapman/ct-perspec-iphone-x-unabomber-technology-20170913-story.html     

Mumford, Lewis.  (1967).  The myth of the machine : technics and human development.  New York :  Harcourt, Brace & World

Week 1:

When Does Progress “Move You Backwards?”

This week we spoke of progress and how the definition is simply “to move forward.” But what if moving forward is not as simple as it seems…and moving too quickly causes more damage than good? Take running for example. There is an old phrase that says, “you have to be able to walk before you can run.” I think that is because trying to master a new skill or technique before being proficient in the first can lead to negative consequences, (scraped knee from falling, twisted ankle, etc.) So, if this can happen to individuals, who is to say that it cannot happen in the world of technology then? In our readings they spoke of the maiden voyage of the Titanic and how the ship was deemed “unsinkable” and at its time was the height of technological advancements. Of course, everyone knows the horrific outcome and in addition human error is said to play a major role in the tragedy, (i.e. the ship going too fast, only having enough lifeboats to meet regulation standards (20), cutting costs in materials to build the ship…etc.)

A lot of these issues could have been dealt with but a major factor in my opinion was the hubris of many individuals wanting to prove to themselves that they built something indestructible. Fast forward to now…with technology on the rise…is the past being re-examined to make sure we do not repeat the same mistakes? There is a reason drugs should go through rigorous testing before being approved, (even if it takes more time,) or new computer systems monitored for quality control before the older models are replaced. In order to make sure everything “goes right” certain procedures and protocol have to be followed and not just rushed for the sake of scientific advancement.

Another major topic in the readings was the emergence of “Web 2.0” and its ability to transform anyone with a computer to film makers, composers, writers, musicians, etc. Andrew Keen spoke about this as being a “narcissistic approach to leveling the playing field between artists and amateurs.” If this is true, then what will be put in place to distinguish between those who really “know their stuff” and those who just have the internet? Another question I had was how far will people take it? Soon you won’t have to go to school to practice law or perform open heart surgery…you can be an internet doctor by day and lawyer by night with no real training. In my opinion, technology will always move fast…but should NOT move faster than it should without all safeguards in place, (enough lifeboats, the proper materials for construction, following the rules, etc,) or else a tragedy that could have been easily avoided is bound to repeat itself.  

References:

Keen, A., (2007). The Next Digital Decade: Essays on The Future Of The Internet. We Must Resist the Temptation of Web 2.0.     

Pruitt, S., (2018, April 12). Why Did the Titanic Sink? https://www.history.com/news/why-did-the-titanic-sink

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