Future of Information Technology – The Good & The Bad

The recent headlines made me reflect on where we are heading. Though this is a website dedicated mostly to computers, I would still like to discuss the future of technology – information technology (IT, as computers were referred to, in their early days) or any other technology that falls into the definition. Among the headlines that caught my attention are “Wearable Hidden Cameras [1]”, ‘creating a 3D gun [2]*’, ‘Replicator from Star Trek [3] – (You Won’t Need Agriculture Anymore?)’ and “People Booking One Way Tickets to Mars – Is the Planet even Habitable?”[4]  What does all that mean?

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Future of Information Technology

I really cannot make sense of where we are heading. Generally, people don’t like changes. Then – how are we – and – are we really, – accepting the possibilities already created and being funded by different science organizations? Probably, I am just looking at the negative sides!

“We’ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology”, Carl Sagan succinctly outlines what we are all aware of- that technology has become an inherent part of our existence. Technology can be both liberating and confining at the same time and this underpins the fact that paradox is intrinsic to technology.

Advantages of Information Technology

The technology debate has raged on for a long time now. The staunch supporters are of the view that technology has revolutionized the world for the better. The advancement in medical technology has cured diseases that have wiped out entire cities in the past. We are now better equipped to handle the wrath of natural disasters with the aid of technology as it ensures that help arrives quickly and effectively. Technology has allowed us a glimpse into the vast universe and is helping us answer important questions that have been unanswered for centuries. The communication revolution has made it possible to stay in touch with our close ones even if they are thousands of miles apart. Most notably, the internet has completely transformed the way we get entertained, consume information and do business.

Negatives of Development

The above opinion is in stark contrast with another group that believes technology is the root cause of everything that is wrong with our society. We now have weapons of mass destruction able to annihilate an entire country with just click of a button. The rapid technological advancement has resulted in the rampant exploitation of fossil fuel that trigger global warming. There is a constant threat to one’s privacy by undetectable surveillance methods made possible by technology and employed not only by governments across the world to spy on their citizens but also cyber criminals to track down their potential targets.

Future of Information Technology – The Hedge Ones

The third group of people – the majority – is still on the fence when it comes to taking a stand on present and future of (information) technology. They are aware that although technology has completely transformed their existence but if mismanaged it has immense potential and appetite for destruction too.

Future of Information Technology & Development

What is the answer to this hotly debated question on the paradox of technology? I believe this is a wrong question to ask. We have been programmed to perceive everything in either black or white, why is it necessary to classify everything as either being undeniably good or pure evil?

Technology is like a surgeon’s knife; it can be used to either take a life or save a life. Plenty such things already exist. For example, a person with smartphone clicking you (intentionally or unintentionally)… and you don’t know where that image will land up… and whether it would cause any harm to you… The social networks are both a blessing and curse. For example, you share your best and worst moments there. What people make out of the posts is up to them. You must read our articles on how to secure your privacy while sharing things on social networks. The best answer I got to secure your privacy on the Internet was/is: “If it is a secret, do not share it on the Internet anywhere“!

Are We Doomed?

We need to acknowledge the fact that technology will continue to shape our lives in unimaginable ways – be it for the better or for the worse. There is absolutely no way we can even fathom a life devoid of technology. It is ingrained in the houses we live in, the clothes we wear and even the food we eat.

We should not be naive enough to believe that we can get the good without the bad – although we can have conscientious laws and precautionary safeguards in place to minimize the misuse of technology. These laws can protect our future from the possible negative effects of Information technology development. However, as it reflects from history, often the people responsible for creating relevant laws are too late when it comes to contain any negative effects arising from uncontrolled development.

I would want to hear your views on the future of Information technology and both the plus and negative effects of uncontained technology development. Or if there is any method to contain the development – to a pace where we can keep an eye on things and are ready to face the effects!

References:

1. Google Glasses – Wearable Hidden Camera

2. Printable Guns: Do We Need A License?

3. Star Trek’s Replicator Comes To Life, Thanks To NASA

4. 3500 Book One Way Ticket To Mars – Agree To Spend Rest of Lives There!

Special Thanks to Swagat Karnany for his research and valuable inputs on future of Information Technology

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN