Saturday, 26 April 2014

Smarter 'tech' making us dumb?

So billionaire tech investor/entrepreneur Vinod Khosla is in the news, again. But for not the right reasons--as the father of a child who has had her privacy violated. His daughter's ex has apparently threatened to make her nude photos public. That's not the whole story of course, but how terrible this must be. As a parent myself, I cannot imagine how traumatic this must be for the family.

But you know, I kept thinking, how could this obviously super intelligent young woman (she and the alleged extortionist ex met as students at Stanford University) do something so dumb? Share nude pictures of herself with her then boyfriend? Granted, they were in a relationship and all that. But this is a young woman who must know and who grew up knowing just how powerful technology can be, how all-reaching it is. How invasive, how intrusive it is. Yet, she shared her intimate pictures and is now being blackmailed over those very pictures. Why would she do something so dumb?

Actually, the truth is, she is not alone. We all share private moments on vast, uncharted public spaces. I am not a geeky person, but I know better than to post private photos anywhere. I've even covered up the 'camera' on my laptop, that's how nuts I am. I did that after reading about sickos who get turned on by remotely controlling others' laptops. Don't believe me? There are actually men who spy on women through webcams. But then, the women need to be careful too, methinks--not use their laptops to watch movies while they are soaking in the tub, as some woman actually did.
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/03/rat-breeders-meet-the-men-who-spy-on-women-through-their-webcams/

Anyway, tech scares me, to be honest. So I try not to post too many photos of my child on FB. And none of him unclothed. Yet, among my FB friends, there are so many women who do exactly that. A friend recently uploaded her entire cache of of a recent holiday--including photos of her little girl (8 or 9 years old) in bikinis. I shudder when I see such images and hope the mother has her privacy settings in place. Because, even on such social networking sites, how do we really know if all our 'friends' are decent people? And what if they unintentionally share a private image of ours and before you know it, it's on some dastardly site. We don't really know, do we?

Which is why I think the smarter our phones, the snazzier the tech we use, the dumber we behave.