Have you ever been in a lift hurtling towards the top a skyscraper and wondered what was underneath your feet. I did the other day and it shocked me to realize that I had unintentionally put my faith in some technology I knew nothing about and which now held me more than a hundred meters above the ground.
Ever since we have been inventing technology, we’ve been entrusting our lives to it. Consider what you do on an average day that involves technology. Climb in your car, accelerate, brake, allow a traffic light to regulate your drive into the city, an elevator to whisk you high above the city, we put our trust in technology on a daily basis.
With every technology there comes a point where it changes from an unknown entity and something to be feared into something which is accepted without a thought in our daily lives.
More than likely you’re sitting reading this on a computer screen. At some point in the past however it is likely you were apprehensive about using a computer. If you take a step inside your head and analyze what that fear was, it may have been nervousness about making a mistake or a worry that if you allow yourself to use a computer then you will allow it to rule your life.
We all know of people whose lives are ruled by computers. They don’t ever go far from their laptop. Check their eMail consistently throughout the day and always have a computer on hand to do something whether they are at the office or on holiday. These people trust technology explicitly to a point where it is an integral part of their lives.
The kind of technology we are talking about does not appear in nature. It is always human-made. This leaves us with a dilemma. We create it ourselves, but do we trust it?
James Cameron has brought the most famous shipping disaster back to life with his movie Titanic. In it’s day, and there were only a few of them, the Titanic was one the centuries most prized technological possessions. It was trusted by all without hesitation. Its sinking made us realize that man made technology can not always be trusted.
Likewise the aeroplane is another constant reminder that while we have the brains and brawn to create a magnificent flying machine, we cannot unconditionally trust them without at least some reservation. The fact that one falls out of the sky most weeks keeps us constantly alert to the fact that trusting some of our human made technology is a fickle business.
How much do we trust the technology that brings you this article? Do we know enough about it to trust it? Is the year 2000 the Titanic of information systems? Will it take a major disaster for us to realize how sensitive our computer systems really are?
The faith that we entrust in technology leaves us vulnerable on many fronts. Let us hope that our wake up call is not enough to base a movie on.