COVID is the worst pandemic in history At this juncture is tech our friend or enemy

COVID -19 is the worst pandemic in history. At this juncture, is technology our friend or enemy?

No weapons. No war. No bloodshed. But the world has lost its peace. All of us are fighting the deadliest battle of our lives by staying home. COVID-19 is the only enemy in front of us. The world has come to a complete halt except for the earth's rotation. The coronavirus outbreak is something unprecedented as it has even shaken the superpowers of the world. Many new technologies have emerged now. Are these technologies helping us fight this battle? Let us take a glimpse of a few of the technologies that are in the forefront now.

Big Data - Is it really safe?

Facebook's data breach is still fresh in our minds. There were great discussions and debates the world over regarding data privacy, confidentiality and data protection laws. Many nations enacted laws to guard user data and privacy. But now the scenario has changed completely. Data is used to track, isolate and treat COVID-19 patients. Governments are using various apps, chatbots that collect user data, track their movements and segregate the public based on their exposure to the coronavirus. In this crisis situation, privacy has taken second place as safety is our priority. Will there be any illicit use due to easy access to our personal data?

Social Media - Infodemic during a pandemic?

WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other social media applications took away love and family ties as the users were simply hooked on all the time. Many got obsessed with social media and it was considered a taboo by the elders or adults in the family. Now, the scenario is different. The same apps are connecting people, families and friends. The usage of social media has increased to a large extent as everyone is at home and all wish to remain updated about the pandemic. WhatsApp video calls have become commonplace as one cannot visit their dear ones during lockdown even if they are in the same city. The governments are using WhatsApp, Facebook and other chatbots to disseminate the right information about the pandemic to the public and also to track the movement of the public. WHO (World Health Organization) has also warned about "infodemic" on social media which could lead to anxiety and fear. Misinformation can also spread like a forest fire. Strict laws can only stop fake news and rumours. We have to wait and watch how the government controls the spread of misinformation on social media. Will our data be leaked? We never know!

Drones - Isn't privacy our right?

Governments and the public were sceptical about drones. These unmanned aerial vehicles were considered dangerous as they could be used for terrorist attacks. Even in India, the use of drones was banned for a few years but later it was lifted. These days, as a surveillance mechanism, drones patrol Indian roads. These not only monitor the movement of people but also spread awareness about the Coronavirus. But privacy and safety should not be overlooked. How are we going to tame this beast? We wonder if drones will become part of the police force in the future!

AI - Is it reliable and trustworthy?

The use of AI is always mired in controversy. For instance, AI cars have not seen the light of the day as judgement, timing and experience are critical when it comes to driving. There is a lack of trust and reliability when it comes to AI. Now, AI has taken the prime role in the fight against coronavirus. Robots based on AI technology have been deployed at hospitals to provide food and medicine to COVID-19 patients, disinfect hospitals and streets and also used for surveillance purposes. Like sci-fi movies, robots take to the streets to warn people about coronavirus. AI is also used to predict the trajectory of infection and is used to build maps that help the government in monitoring and controlling the spread of infection. Scientists depend on AI for drug and vaccine discovery. The impact of AI technology has to be studied to know whether it would be good, bad or ugly in the long run. Will robots dominate the post corona world? We have to wait and watch!

How will technology lead us?

Every new technology or science has its pros and cons. We are wise enough to decide our own course of action. Technology is not good or bad by itself, it depends on how humans choose to use it. If technology is manipulated for human's greed and selfish motives, the entire intention behind an invention or technology goes waste. The long term impact of these technologies and the way it will shape the world remains a big question in our minds!

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