My parents have seen a drastic change in technology from their childhood until now. While I’ve grown up with laptops and tablets, my parents didn’t have this type of advanced technology. My mom’s first computer was a 486. It was rather big and had a small screen, unlike computers nowadays, this computer needed its space, the monitor itself was about 40cm wide, 14cm deep, and 28cm high, you then need to add the keyboard and server to this. The output from this computer was received from the monitor screen. The computer was also connected to a printer and a 3 and a half-inch floppy disk in which data could be recorded. She used it for work, she would write text documents, Excel spreadsheets and she also learned how to code with it. She first owned a PC when she was around 18 or 19 years old, although this was a family computer. The first time she used the Internet was when she was at uni, she got an email address and also did research work for uni. This is pretty shocking for me and probably a lot of people my age. I got my laptop when I was 13 as I needed it for school work, it is a lot smaller and lighter than what my mom used. I have also grown using the Internet and have always done research and gotten information from there. When seeing this technology grow, she has developed some ‘hatred’ towards some pieces of technology. Something she isn’t particularly happy with is Apple and its operating system. I have to agree with her, while Apple looks very nice and their devices are light, mainly easy to use and modern, they aren’t compatible with any other technology. I am writing this from a MacBook Air, but if I wanted to quickly share it with someone using some other operating system, they might have some trouble opening up the file as this would contain tags and extensions only accessible by Apple.

New PC! 486 with Windows for Workgroups – markdigital.com

Like my mom, my dad has also seen technology grow up. His first computer was the ZX Spectrum, this computer only had 48KB of RAM, which is nothing compared to what we have now and almost impossible to imagine. This computer was a small keyboard which was plugged into the TV which was used as a monitor. To record software you needed a tape recorder. The output from this computer was received through the TV screen and a small speaker. Unlike my mom who used her first computer for work, my dad mainly used it to play computer games, but he also learned how to program Basic programming language. This computer was small compared to my mom’s but we need to take into account that it was mainly a keyboard, the keyboard was 23cm wide, 14cm high and 3 cm deep. He then owned his first PC when he went to uni, at 18 years old, it was an IBM. Like my mom, he first used the Internet at uni to send emails or share files using FTP – File Transfer Protocol. His most hated piece of technology is some of the social media apps people are using nowadays since many of them are addictive and potentially dangerous.

ZX Spectrum - Wikipedia

Going a bit deeper into conversation with my dad I discovered that he believes technology is mainly good as it makes our lives better, and as he said “we’ve never lived better than how we live now”. However, technology is also potentially dangerous if it isn’t used right. One of his biggest fears is that technology can create a digital divide, due to people not being able to afford technology or not having access to it, if we rely a lot on this technology, we might not be able to work with everyone around the world as not everyone has access to the hardware and software we have access to. When talking about how my siblings and I have grown in comparison to him, he said that our life growing up is very different from his. We have access to much more information than he did, we are much more connected to friends around the world but we are also subject to many more distractions than he was. He also pointed out that a lot of cultural aspects of youth around the world are much more similar than when he was our age, meaning that now everyone follows the same trends, wears the same clothes, listens to the same music, and watches the same movies. While when he was younger, because people couldn’t communicate as we do now, culture was very different around the world.

Although he grew up in a world where technology wasn’t as advanced, he has now made himself a digital native. This can be seen through his work. He mainly uses technology for connectivity, using apps such as email, Zoom, and WhatsApp, he also uses advanced analytics to help his clients solve some of their most complex issues and makes use of digital technologies to help his clients disrupt their core competitors. The apps he uses most would be email, Microsoft suite of products (such as Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Word, etc.), and WhatsApp or Slack for messaging. Just like him, I also use all this technology at school to connect with classmates or teachers, and less formal ways of communicating such as WhatsApp to chat with my friends and family around the world. I also use a few apps he doesn’t, such as Instagram, to be connected with my friends and share some of the things I do with them. Clear digital native behavior could be seen when he said that to succeed at his job he needs to be a 9 on a ‘tech-savvy’ scale from 1 to 10. This is because all of his clients need to leverage digital to succeed in their business and he needs to be proficient to advise them. The reason he believes you need to be a 9 rather than a 10 is that he can leverage experts for some topics.

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In his company a computer use agreement has been set, they have strict data protocols to protect their data and that of their clients. He is aware of how his activities are monitored by system administrators within his workplace, there are multiple layers to this monitoring. For instance, when he downloads too much information, it raises an alarm, or when he sends data to people outside of his company, there’s also an alarm. He personally doesn’t monitor his employees’ use of their computer as this is done by other departments. No biometrics are used around his office, they rely more on a variety of passcodes and access cards and codes. Digital native behavior from him is noticeable again as he says that on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 would be how much of his work is done collaboratively using some sort of technology. This is very impressive not just for him but for everyone else around him who also grew up with less advanced technologies and now rely on them for everything around the workspace.

I was also interested in his views about technology in both the near and far future affecting him and a wider community. Regarding the speed at which technology is growing and upgrading, he can keep up with those changes as long as they are close to the things he does, although he finds some areas harder to follow and some of his employees use some technology better than he does. In his company, everyone receives and has a lot of training in digital technologies and techniques. As technology grows, some of his main concerns regard privacy and anonymity as too much personal data might end up in the hands of a few big companies such as Apple or Google. This is already a big source of concern and will be bigger in a few years. He is also concerned about security, he believes that cybersecurity issues will become worse than they are now. There will also be changes in his profession and what he does now, during the next 5 to 10 years he thinks that their digital collaboration will continue to improve and increase and they will bring more agile ways of working and how they do business. The content of their work with their clients will be increasingly digital, right now it is 50% digital when only five years ago it was less than 10%.

How mobile phone technology has changed over the last 40 years | Netstar IT Support

His fear regarding our personal data in the hands of big companies brings me to an article written by Geoffrey A. Fowler about how our iPhones share data even when we are sleeping and our phones are off. He explains how he investigated how his personal data and information was shared with companies he had never heard of. On a single night a company learned his phone number, email, and exact location, another app got a digital fingerprint from his phone and a tracker received a way to identify his phone and sent back a list of other trackers to pair up with. Fowler encountered over 5400 trackers, mostly in apps, which in a month’s time had spewed over 1.5 gigabytes of data. Our privacy is important and shouldn’t be shared without our permission. A former National Security Agency researcher created an app that identifies and blocks any trackers. While this app can be found on the Apple App Store, Google won’t let you download it from its Play Store.

A big concern Fowler talks about is how if we don’t know where our data is going, how can we ever hope to keep it private? We have no idea where all this information is going and what these big companies are doing with it, this is not respecting our privacy and anonymity around the Internet and we have a right to know what our data is being used for. Some companies such as Microsoft, Nike, and The Weather Channel, told Fowler they were using the trackers to improve performance. Mint said it used its trackers to know how to advertise to their users, and The Post wanted to ensure their adds worked. Spotify sent him directly to its privacy policy. These privacy policies don’t always protect protection. An app for location-based crime reports published that they wouldn’t share “your name or other personally identifying information”. This didn’t happen to be true as Fowler found out that this app kept sending his phone number, email, and exact GPS coordinates to another tracker. While this app was used for surveillance, the privacy and anonymity of the users weren’t being respected as they claimed it would in their policies.

But it isn’t just Apple getting a hold of this data. Alexa has been discovered to listen. To your every word and uses the information it hears to recommend you things or share your data. I remember our friends a few years ago started talking about a possible family trip to Cambodia at the dinner table. They had just discussed it together and hadn’t planned it online. When they then logged into their computer, ads on websites were all about “Visit Cambodia”, “Fly [airline] to Cambodia”, “Best hotels in Cambodia”, etc. We need to be careful about the information we share online as a big part of it is shared without our permission to companies and apps we don’t know about.

Data theft - Free computer icons

Having watched technology grow rapidly over the past few years, my dad believes that my siblings and I, and any other kids our age, will need to be very proficient in advanced analytics and data science to succeed in 5 to 10 years, and using digital for connectivity will be table stakes anyway. He also sees a lot of hope in Biosciences from medicine to agriculture, we are making a lot of progress in these areas making life on the planet healthier and with higher welfare. However, some technologies also bring him fear, this would include using AI and advanced analytics to control one’s personal life, both by corporations and by governments.

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This fear regarding advanced analytics links to an article written by Mathias Golombek on big data fears. His concerns aren’t as much about big companies using our data against us, but more about concerns about these big data projects, which if failed, could result in data leakage. Firstly there’s the concern that big data projects tend to fail. When organizing these projects you need to take into account a variety of things starting by getting the best technologies for your project and aim and also think about the stakeholders in different scenarios and how they would react to their information being stored. Big data projects tend to fail by not achieving the expected business value, going way over budget as this type of technology is very expensive and falling behind on the schedule. Based on studies, this happens to 50-60% of big data projects. Golombek claims that this isn’t such a big issue as companies will learn through trial and error and technologies are improving, however, I believe that this process of trial and error won’t be good in the long run as companies might end up losing money and time on failed projects.

Another issue regarding big data is the fact that it is too expensive. Many companies have spent millions of dollars on these projects, and no positive impact has been seen on the company’s revenue. Many big data projects have failed or have not given the company valuable insights. As Golombek says, we need large numbers of developers or technical experts working on these projects, rather than a few people who just use certain products. Collecting, processing, storing, and analyzing data is a complicated task, and if not carried out properly, you could be exposing a lot of information about others, which is a social issue as you are not respecting certain people’s privacy and anonymity since you are not protecting their personal data properly and you’re exposing them. Golombek argues that leveraging your data in the best way is a very important competitive advantage. Some companies might not focus so much on these costs as even companies in traditional industries such as Airbnb and Uber, need to demonstrate to their customers that their data is safe and protected, this gives them an advantage over other companies in their industry. If costumers start trusting them more because they have demonstrated that data is safely stored, this will give them an advantage because they will be picked over their competitors, so maybe the amount of money they spent on their big data project didn’t go to waste.

The last issue that Golombek talks about is that some companies might not have clear business objectives. Some smaller companies have decided to start up big data projects because ‘it’s becoming a trend and everyone’s doing it’. This can sound a bit like a childish and immature decision since these projects are big and complicated, not a trend you find on social media. Because these companies aren’t sure about what they want to do and don’t have the resources to set up these projects, they end up failing. Golombek claims that many inventions are discovered accidentally and that if you don’t engage with big data at all, you will not invent anything new. I however think that these companies might be risking too much by setting up these big data projects without a clear objective in mind.

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Due to the new technologies he has access to, he could continue working quite well during COVID, however, this is not sustainable long term as we need human contact and connectivity. It was hard to train and integrate new employees from remote working, while remote working functioned well with his existing client relationships, it was hard to make new relationships without human contact.

Saving lives and the economy using technology amid COVID-19 pandemic - Science & Tech - The Jakarta Post

 

Here’s the original article by Geoffrey A. Fowler

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/05/28/its-middle-night-do-you-know-who-your-iphone-is-talking/

Here’s the original article by Mathias Golombek

https://www.dataversity.net/three-big-data-fears-and-why-you-should-not-worry/#

 

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