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HomeTechnology and CybersecurityArtificial IntelligenceNavigating the ethical challenges posed by advanced technology

Navigating the ethical challenges posed by advanced technology

On January 20, 2023 something very unsettling happened with Jennifer DeStefano in Arizona, USA.

She received a call from a scammer who duplicated her 15 year old daughter’s voice using AI, and demanded a ransom of $1 million dollars. Thankfully, her daughter was safe. However, it is a deeply disturbing incident that makes us realize how technology can be exploited for malicious purposes. Geoffrey Hinton, the Godfather of Artificial Intelligence firmly believes that AI could overpower humans and Jennifer’s case is just one example of the growing misuse of advanced technology that raises serious concerns about our privacy and security. What happened to Jennifer is definitely a terrifying nightmare that could happen to any of us. Hence, It is increasingly evident that every stride forward comes with a shadow. No wonder technology has advanced tremendously and has made things incredibly easy and efficient. From the invention of the printing press to the development of the Internet. From performing tasks manually to automating them with robots, we have definitely come a long way. But, if we look beneath the shiny surface of progress, we will find a collection of ethical problems that need us to think about and pay attention to them. The notion ‘everything has pros and cons’ holds particularly true for technology. Let’s delve into some of the challenges that have arisen with the advancement of technology.

Digital footprints: In today’s age as we use online platforms such as when we shop for clothes or gadgets, tell websites our name, address, or credit/debit card info, talk to customer service, or post stuff on Facebook or Instagram, we actually leave behind a trail of information about us as we move around the internet. All this information is collected by the government and various companies, which can be used to manipulate our preferences sometimes, which raises concern that our personal information could be stolen and misused in ways we don’t want them to use.To deal with this problem, websites and companies should be transparent about how they use our data and ask for our permission before collecting it. Also, security measures such as Two-factor authentication (2FA) should be promoted. Moreover, organizations like International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network(ICPEN) should be supported that focus on consumer protection concerns.

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Rising Tide of AI and Automation: The increased use of Artificial intelligence and automation of the work has already created fear of losing jobs these days among people, and I believe this is just a glimpse of what we are experiencing now, there is much more to come in the future as the technology advances. For instance, the recent launch of AI news anchors has made human news anchors really worried that they might lose their jobs as AI gets better with time in the near future. Another example could be of the emerging automated checkout system and cashier-less stores. Of course it will make shopping easy for customers, but imagine the amount of job displacement it could lead to among human cashiers and the people who work at checkout counters. To address this, collaborative AI should be encouraged where AI and automation work alongside humans rather than replacing them, as it will not only enhance human capabilities but also lead to new job opportunities.

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Technology vs Planet: On one hand technology is upgrading and making our lives better and on the other hand it is equally causing harm to the environment. All the electronic devices like TVs, smartphones, computers, cables get discarded and create e-waste that is not good for our planet. Additionally, all the devices require energy to work which puts pressure on power plants to work harder to generate more electricity which ends up harming the environment. Just like when a person works constantly without taking enough rest, it makes them feel exhausted, strained, which reduces their efficiency to work properly. In the same way the environment has its own limits, and it is important to take steps to reduce stress on the environment by taking steps such as adopting green energy resources and implementing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs in which manufacturers take the responsibility for the entire life of their products from recycling to disposal.

Tech’s Toll on Health: It has adverse effects on mental health which raises ethical concern as people’s screen time has been increased due to the addictive nature of technology. The use of technology before going to bed disrupts sleep patterns as it emits blue light that interferes with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making it harder for us to fall asleep. The constant connectivity and notifications can disrupt our ability to relax and focus, that increases stress level. It also leads to isolation, anxiety and depression as technology has connected us digitally but it has led to social isolation in the real world. Hence, digital detox should be promoted where individuals should disconnect digitally to connect physically with the world. Even with the reliance on small devices like calculators are deteriorating human capacity of critical thinking and problem solving skills as all of us automatically prefer using calculators rather than doing mental calculations even for a simple basic calculation. Furthermore, voice-assistants like Alexa or Google Home are increasing convenience for us to control our home by just sitting in one place, on the other hand it is making us all lazy and leading to reduced physical activity in just the blink of an eye. Imagine how intensely it could affect us in the near future! Therefore, activities like spending time in nature and outdoor activities should be promoted. Also, Jennifer’s case makes us realize how important it is to be aware about cybersecurity! To tackle this, America’s cyber defense agency has made an effort to educate individuals about cyberthreats through their Cybersecurity Awareness Program (CISA) so that the individuals can be safe online. Hence, we need to carefully evaluate the challenges and take actions accordingly, rather than waiting for the time to pass and letting technology overpower humans.

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Sources: Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

By, Shreya Kaushal.

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