It is way easier to say that the new age of connectivity is better than the last one and that we are more connected as a global society now more than ever. But the reality of the situation is often more intricate than that. In a sense, we ditched communicating in existence, and we made it a small part of our lives compared to the digital form of communication that is caused by the immense growth of technology. It seems that this growth augments itself with time, and it shapes the way the human race views development and change.
It has been almost 50 years since the telephone was first invented, and even longer for the steam engine. Still, if we go further, we find that it only took 13 years after the invention of the telephone to come up with the concept of the cloud, and five years after that came search engines. Until eventually, google launched in 1998, and it changed the way we viewed information technology and connectivity in general. The world went from having few servers for sites like Bing and Yahoo to having data centers and satellite feeds that rivaled that of news outlets. The internet went from this amateur hiding place for creative, rebellious individuals that wanted to do something different with their time to this world data center where information was stored and shared easily. Emails were the most popular way of communication after texting and voice calls, and big corporate entities saw it as an opportunity to expand their reach and eliminate some of the challenges that they had with their employees.
This sudden widespread of the internet brought with it a new generation, one that is primarily attached to the first and created culture out of it as a consequence. Millions of people signed up to offers and deals online, and even education became possible through it. It seemed as if there was no holding the progress of the internet, you were either on board or a relic of the past, just because the technology was moving faster than most people could cope with it. In the end, what came, as a result, is today’s generation, and the ways they could speak or view each other’s lives and the trends that are all accessible via a click or a touch. In today’s streets, we see teenagers standing alone or in groups and speaking to their AIs that are programmed to behave according to their personal preferences and personality. And the change from conventional cellular devices to this new age of connectivity seems only recent and subtle compared to other worldwide changes.
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Unfortunately, the new age of connectivity came at the cost of something significant to the individual’s life. Now that seeing people’s profiles became straightforward, and that people gossip, share, and follow each other’s lives with intent. Privacy was lost. The thing that many modern programmers and hackers were quick to point out is that ruining lives is now as easy as knocking on a couple of keys. Accessing someone’s Email account and deleting his lifetime of work, hacking into someone’s Facebook, and erasing his contact list, the list goes on. All of that and more is now possible due to the blind addiction on connectivity, and some would not use the modernized ways of communication, but there are only a few of them. Eventually, it will feel like them swimming against the current that’s bringing them back to the shore; they would be considered outdated by society and find their appreciation for privacy as excessive. And amid the promising success of new and improved connectivity devices, it is hard to argue with that.
The immense growth of social media networks and news outlets that are being developed and published every single day to entertain and occupy the users is the sole reason why the new generation is so confident in the technology’s ability to protect them. They do not see the other side of the equation because there have been almost no regular examples of such a thing. And even if there were, the promises for a better future and more comfortable to connect and tackle ordinary tasks kept the users hooked. A clear example of this was on July 4th, 2009, right after the world crisis nearly the third of earth’s population used Gmail to handle their Email Accounts. Senior engineer at Google Maria Christensen decided to give the hackers and whistle-blowers of the world a chance to leak essential data about the world’s dictators and help out the new press that is the fifth estate. In short, Maria pressed the button that allowed for complete access to the password section, which means whatever it is written in that tab, it would be considered correct, and access to the Email address is granted. People were in a rush to see each other’s thoughts and personal choices, while big corporations thought their transaction was being spied on. This took a significant toll on many different people that did use Gmail, and it seemed that as though when it came to privacy, it will never be the same again as it was before this incident. But only two years after, Gmail had as many active users as it did before that problem, and that number even tripled in the last few years.
It was ten years since that incident took place, and now we are on the cusp of handing out our personal information to a group of self-learning machines to facilitate further the task and budget of major corporates. They became an integral part of life as we know it, and it is only a matter of time before they become marketable. In the next ten years of more progress and another new age of connectivity where human engineering and science will work together to bring the world even closer through technology, privacy and security ought to be the main focus.
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Originally published on Live Positively.