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Technology wants you to trust it completely, blindly

By Jean-Claude Elias - Oct 11,2018 - Last updated at Oct 11,2018

It is a bit like the consequences of global warming. It was bound to happen one day and now it is happening faster than expected. Information Technology has reached a point where it wants you to trust it, blindly, completely, or else.

It is a very big subject, impossible to discuss in a few lines and we are only at the threshold of what is about to happen. The phenomenon is taking place, mainly in two major fields, and somewhat in parallel: When using computers and networks — at home or at work, and when driving automobiles.

The idea is to have computers (or tablets, or smartphones…) on which very little software is installed and that merely serve to connect you to the web where everything is there, including of course your personal data. Even companies and enterprises, however large or important they may be, will not have physical servers or Windows Server operating systems anymore. Everything, and there is a strong stress on the word “everything” here, is going to be web or cloud based.

The advantages are many and overwhelming. No more fear for data loss, drastically reduced cost of owning and running equipment, of maintenance and of IT staff. Assurance that everything is always updated and backed up. The disadvantages also are overwhelming. Very few control on how things work. And in the case of intentional damage the consequences just cannot be measured. In short, the limited amount of control we still have on devices will be reduced to the bare minimum.

The automotive industry is also going in this direction, essentially of course because the technical progress in information technology applied to cars is allowing it. By leaving very little if anything to the “driver” to do, by taking full control, automated cars will do to us what the web already is doing to our smartphones.

At the most basic level, we can perhaps think of the ABS, the anti-lock braking system that we now take for granted and that is in every car. From the purely technical point of view ABS applies brakes the way it wants to, not the way you want to — to avoid skidding, granted, but still. So imagine all the new high-tech functionality that is now being fit into cars and that will take most decisions in your place. French manufacturer Peugeot has just shown this month a new model that scans, recognises road signs and that automatically makes the vehicle to comply!

Just like taking full control of computer servers, networks, software and data, automated vehicles will come with significant advantages. We already have a foretaste of that with predictive braking, various types of warnings, and maps guidance. They will also and most likely help to reduce accidents and will relieve drivers from a large number of tasks. But again, it will all be about giving up control and blindly trusting the machines, the system, and all the IT and the “computerised stuff” in it.

Those who are familiar with technology, very close to it, and who usually adopt a pragmatic approach will tell you that passengers’ airliners already behave like the cars of the very near future. Most everything is fully automated in the sky and trusting technology completely, absolutely, is the only way to go.

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