Technology brings wonders, dangers
Published: Monday, November 8, 2010
Updated: Monday, November 8, 2010 23:11
Technology is a significant part of life in the 21st century. Without it, life would be very different from what is now considered normal. Advances in technology lead to advances in life, or so it seems.
Technology changes every day. With these changes come people who are determined to bring even more changes. Unfortunately, for every person trying to make technology better, there is someone looking for ways to use that technology to harm others.
This year, for the first time, online voting was made available in 33 states. This was done to allow U.S. citizens living abroad, military personnel being the main focus, be able to vote in elections. Sure, it sounds nice to be able to vote without having to leave your home, but it might not be as great as it seems.
As most people know, computers can be very susceptible to hacking. From recovering e-mails to convict a felon to distributing provocative photos of celebrities, hacking can be used for good or bad.
As United States citizens, we have the right to vote, but we also have the right for our vote to be counted accurately. As of today, there is no way to determine whether or not online votes accurately represent voters.
As a test for this online voting, Washington, D.C., conducted a pilot project open to the public. Within 36 hours, a group from the University of Michigan had overtaken the system. As a prank, it elected a Star Wars robot as chairman of the City Council and had manipulated the ballot to play its school's fight song 15 seconds after someone had voted.
This example shows how simple it is to corrupt a major election and proves it is a domestic problem of voting security, on top of being a problem for national security. Not only was the Michigan team's computer found as a hacker, but a computer from China and another from Iran were also tracked.
These days, homework is done on a computer instead of with pencil and paper, money is handled through a plastic card rather than cash and many cell phones can do more than some computers are able to do. This leads to nearly complete dependency on these gadgets to get us through our normal daily lives.
It is scary to realize and admit how much we depend on technology. As previously mentioned, much banking these days is done through debit or credit cards. Unlike days past, there are not golden bricks in bank vaults to back up the money we are said to have. It is strictly done through computer systems. We would be in a tight spot if, for some reason, all electricity in the world shut off.
One day, I was buying groceries for my mom at Walmart. When I got through the checkout line and attempted to pay with the debit card my mom had given me, the cashier told me the PIN I had entered was wrong. I was sure I had not made a mistake, so I looked at the name on the card. I discovered my mom had given me my aunt's card accidentally.
Instead of the canceling my payment, she told me she could simply switch it to credit, and I could sign the name found on the card. This worried me by showing how easy it would be for someone to steal or find my debit card and use it as long as he or she knew my name.
Advancements in technology have led to new jobs for people who can now use their intricate computer work for common tasks of everyday life. Consequently, production of new jobs leads to loss of old ones.
It is weird to look at the technology of today and think only eight years ago it was the cool thing to have a brick-like cell phone, capable of texting and playing Snake. With the advancements in technology every day, there is a lot left to the imagination as to what my grandchildren's grandchildren will call toys as they grow up.
Jay Ballard is a freshman majoring in chemistry. He can be contacted at