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Technology: Inclusive or Intrusive?

 

Author – Ananya Ayasi

 

Recently, I was reading the book Quantum Computation and Quantum Information by Isaac Chuang and Michael Nielsen and came across Moore’s Law in its first chapter. It states that, “the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years, though the cost of computers is halved”. Though the number of years associated with this law might and keep changing with time, it gives an insight into the role of technology in our lives. With a greater look at it, we realize that technology keeps getting cheaper and affordable for the average household.

Industry 4.0 and the consequent digitalization of traditional industrial processes is a reminder to us that technology is now more powerful than ever. Now, with the situations changed, and all of us getting accustomed to the new normal and relying on our gadgets for a greater deal than before, technology has taken a new turn. All of this directs us to one major factor that is now instrumental for the technology that we have at hand now. Data.

Data

Data has turned out to be really significant with the recent growth of technology in aspects of machine learning and automation. Though at first look it might look like we control our data, the harsh reality is that algorithms are shaping our lives and as said in the recently released documentary The Social Dilemma, “our psychology is used to control us”.

From simple access permissions that apps ask us, to our biometric data taken for identification purposes, as an individual I can’t even fathom how much of I am out there in discrete packets on the Internet. Though it’s debatable that it’s the same technology and use of data that helped us coordinate since the outbreak of the pandemic, we as a global community still have no rigid laws as to how to effectively use the same, without affecting an individual’s privacy or our shared lives as a community.

Tech Policy

For a fast-paced growing arena like technology, effective binding laws are extremely necessary. Technology Policy is a broad term that encompasses all aspects of technology, channelizing the net impact of technology to be positive. Although, my concern is mainly the use of data and breach of privacy.

It is known that social media platforms can contribute to manipulating the views of the users or even promote hate speeches. However, excessive regulation might turn to censorship which is not a good move either. The use of our data can be quite instrumental for government policies that contribute to our development. Nonetheless, where do we draw the balance to keep it from being too intrusive? These are areas where tech policy becomes crucial.

Existing Frameworks and What Next?

Take for instance India. The Information Technology Act of India clarifies that every business must have a privacy policy published on its website, whether or not you deal with sensitive personal data. It should clearly state as to what data it collects, what it is used for and the third parties to which these data will be shared with. We also have a provision to get compensated if our personal information is improperly disclosed.

The European Union has GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which classifies Europe’s data privacy legislation. This framework gives the citizens more right over their data and private information. Similar laws are being framed in countries all over the world. However, as a global community, tech policy regarding the use of data should be incorporated into international law to make it more effective. Research and development, discussions and discourses, and educational policies regarding the same should be given priority to keep up with the growth of technology.

With technology being reshaped for the new normal, it is necessary that we have well defined laws to keep our individual privacy prioritized beyond borders, yet transparent enough to not stem future technological innovations.

 

 

 

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Ananya Ayasi

Author
College of Engineering, Trivandrum

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