There is a drastic change in the worldview vis-à-vis the science and power of Big Techies. Today, technology is a threat and more than just a challenge.
New Delhi: One of the oldest and most frequently written essays by school students between 1975 and 1985 used to be whether science is a boon or a curse. In the new century, humankind is still stuck with the same debate. But only change is perhaps in one word. Tech has replaced 'Science'.
Precisely it is the Big Techies, Facebook, Twitter, Google, WhatsApp, Tik Tok, YouTube, etc. Technological shifts continue by leaps and bounds, and there are pitfalls.
'The Wall Street Journal' described this as one of last year's main tech events that will shape the future. Others also agree. 'Techlash' is the term used by 'The Economist' to describe the phenomenon.
In India, Twitter was involved in a major tussle with authorities in 2021. In Australia, lawmakers and the government had major problems with Facebook's data share norms. The US lawmakers summoned three tech giants, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai and Twitter boss Jack Dorsey.
Curiously enough, the three powerful men had no answer to some simple-sounding questions. Whether their respective platforms will bear some responsibility for disseminating misinformation related to elections in the US? None had clear answers. Chennai-born Pichai of Google/Alphabet Inc tried his best, "We always feel a deep sense of responsibility…." But nothing concrete yet.
Please note the drastic change in the worldview vis-a-vis the science and power of Big Techies. The so-called Facebook Revolution swept the Middle East about a decade back, and IT was regarded as a tool of democracy and democratic progress. But now, the online platforms have weaponized the terror outfits and authoritarian regimes.
The role of Cambridge Analytica remains a gory episode. Russia presumably interfered in two presidential elections in the United States. The stories about the pro-Kremlin Internet Research Agency are worrying. It has reportedly control over 130 to 140 million fake Facebook users.
Countries like the US, Australia and India are trying new laws and provisions, but much more is needed to be done and achieved. No one knows what is at the end of the tunnel; even fewer people and governments know where the tunnel ends.