Technology – a counterbalance to the mad, bad news’ stories.
Posted on 8th May 2018
Our last blog considered the tendency of the mainstream press to publish alarmist stories about the sometimes unfortunate, sometimes bad and, of course, sometimes downright malicious uses of technology. The TSB debacle, the NHS algorithm failure, the driverless car that killed someone, the robot that seemingly committed suicide: these and many similar stories are published weekly in the UK’s still influential newspapers. That does not diminish the importance of said press in bringing to our attention those Russian bots that spread malevolence and hatred across the Twittersphere and, potentially, threaten our democracy, but it is true, as it always has been, that bad news sells papers.
That’s why I was delighted to see a healthy counterblast in The Sunday Times last weekend. Yes, we do create problems with our use of technology, and yes these errors do kill people, but the point was made rather sensibly that the error in the NHS algorithm was not the fault of the algorithm itself, but rather of the humans who programmed it. Moreover, it was a new piece of technology that identified the fault in the original 2009 software that had created the problem in the first place.
When it comes to the sad case of the lady who was killed by the driverless car, it has been noted that she was not crossing the road by a pedestrian crossing and would have probably met a similar fate if the car had a human driver. Yet the upshot is that millions of people now worry whether driverless cars are “safe” – ignoring the fact that millions of people have been killed by our current “technology” (i.e. the internal combustion engine) and road traffic accidents are the 9thleading cause of death in the world today, with more than 3,000 people dying in crashes every day. And that’s before we take into account the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of deaths caused by pollution. If, as seems more than likely, driverless cars reduced this enormous total andremoved many of our concerns over nitrous oxides and CO2 then they can only be a good thing as far as I am concerned.
In the rush to condemn technology, we seem to have forgotten who creates it and who therefore has ultimate responsibility for “its” actions. We also seem to have lost a sense of perspective. Yet not to worry as it sells newspapers…
Stuart Alexander, Ops Manager, Be-IT
Posted in News
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