I write articles here at random points in life, where time permits, and I apologise for the scarcity of posts. I, like many others, work multiple jobs. Lately most of my work has been conducted mostly from home due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic that is currently holding our world under siege.
These are complex times in which Internet access is a necessity for communication and information, and frankly we should all be a bit worried about our dependence on the Internet and on technology that is dependent on it.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against technology and progress, it not only pays my bills, it sustains my continual need for entertainment, I order food through apps, my phone can barely function without it... My problem is when we integrate the Internet so deeply into our lives to where outages cause disastrous consequences.
Try to recall a time back when the Internet didn't exist... Where things like cars and phones functioned on their own in a much more reliable manner. Now consider current times when your thermostat becomes completely unresponsive in the middle of winter because a vital network goes down. Imagine you're not able to operate your car during a crisis because networks are down?
The question raised is simple... Why are so many new devices dependent on the Internet but made with so little forethought? The answer is that we have based most of our corporate operational models on disposable technology. Companies intentionally make devices that don't last for long periods of time because it encourages a continual cycle of buying by consumers. There are huge costs to making disposable devices in this manner... e.g. Pollution and environmental destruction, inaccessibility of technology to lower-income consumers, and reduced overall value of devices.
In a modern world where companies constantly preach about environmental protection and conservation, Internet connected devices highlight a major ideological hypocrisy as the Internet grows beyond it's infancy. New products need to be created with more of an ethical outlook in mind.
NOT EVERY device needs to be connected to the Internet. Devices can even be networked amongst themselves in small groups without being connected to the Internet at all. We must account for independent operation of devices and even for offline operation of devices and systems where it is applicable, otherwise we're setting ourselves up for major failure in the case of service outages.
Buying a camera for my home the other day, I had to set up yet another user account, which required me to create a user name and password for the service. The camera operates across the Internet, and to access video from the camera located in my house, I had to download a mobile application, I could not use a web site to see and manage the camera. Through this model, there are so many ways my security can be compromised, and I am one of thousands if not millions of customers to this company. When any company requires users to create a new account, they potentially get passwords that subscribers use across many other services. By creating strict password rules, they encourage users to write down their passwords due to the sheer volume of credentials we now have to maintain across services as well, which feeds more and more complexity to our lives and also increases potential for major issues if connectivity goes dark.
As the cost of technology dependent devices becomes more reasonable to manufacturers, we will likely reach a point where EVERY SINGLE device we use will become dependent on Internet connections and on user accounts. It is very very possible for power and connectivity to go out for a multitude of reasons, just today Google services had a major service outage, a few months prior Amazon Web Services encountered service outages too and Internet connected devices from thermostats to automated vacuums failed to operate completely, and they could not be manually operated.
We have seen potential for failure depicted in numerous movies, and in our history as a planet. It's very real, we should always be conscious about this potential for failure, and not just aligned with the irresponsible practice of increasing corporate profit through selling deficient consumer products that are wholly dependent on connectivity. It's probably great to be able to tweet a shopping list from your new fridge, but I'd prefer the slightly older model that doesn't need a user name and password to open nor express ordering from the supermarket because refrigerators have worked just fine for me all these years so far without passwords and Internet connections thank you.
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