After the recent Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas last month, I noticed that the media finally started to become a little more cynical about technology. It's so often the case that we either have the Silicon Valley players championing the rapid advancement of all things software, or reactionaries on the other end of the spectrum warning that no good can come of developing AI / automation / blockchain.
For the first time following the conference, where hackers showed how easily US elections could be sabotaged, people seemed to realise that not all tech is good, and that there might be a middle ground to how we think about it. While we should continue to advance everything we can, perhaps it would be helpful to be a bit more critical of the advancements we bring in. What kind of benefits will they really have? Do those advantages outweigh the potential risks and challenges? Instead of blindly heralding every invention as something we must all immediately own, it's useful for businesses, governments and individuals to critique tech a little more.
One recent example of a fantastic bit of tech advancement is the use of the internet-connected robots that can stream audio and video to housebound sick children, so they can stay in touch with classmates, teachers and friends. Helping to tackle the loneliness that is often part of illness, tech like this can have a real, tangible difference on people around the world. But other products might not actually be worth the associated security challenges and risks, and we would do well to remember that.
Internet-connected robots that can stream audio and video are increasingly helping housebound sick children and elderly people keep in touch with teachers, family and friends, combating the scourge of isolation and loneliness.