Protecting Ourselves

Our safety, security and privacy are in jeopardy in the Technojungle. How does this happen?

During the pandemic, everyone across the world learned about protection. We needed to learn about social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing, shuttering, lockdown, self-isolating, self-quarantine, and vaccination, among other ways to avoid infection by the coronavirus which causes SARS CoV-2, commonly known as COVID-19. We have seen our media curated to censore information that was considered unsuitable, and even a conspiracy theory, to protect the public. The pandemic seemed like a new kind of jungle—it changed the world into a new kind of jungle. As the world changed, drastic emergency measures were taken to increase protection. We learned about PPE (personal protective equipment) and mask wearing. As we have been discussing, we live in two worlds, physical and virtual, and there are certainly dangers in the online Technojungle. Today in a mainline social media feed I saw an article stating that Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau was getting wealthy trading Bitcoin. This was obviously not true, but represented yet another astonishingly clever scam using the cryptocurrency called Bitcoin. While this does not necessarily present a life-threatening danger, other dangers do. For example, children who are lured to meet a sexual predator. 

Can we protect ourselves in the Technojungle? Is it possible to begin to minimize some of the information that you leave in the Technojungle? This should be an important endeavour we take on as a long-term discussion and effort. The Internet is often called the Wild, Wild, West of the digital world and that notion, in part, eventually lead me to the idea of calling it, and our entire world of technology, the Technojungle. Some portions of cyberspace seem civilized, some not very civilized and not well protected. We are often told that we have safety and security in a particular online situation, but I still wonder. How civilized and protected do you feel in the Wild West of a Technojungle? How safe and secure to you feel? Are there situations that particularly concern you? 

Wild West Technojungle (click to enlarge)

What was the American Wild West like? Weren’t the early settlers of the Wild West prone to all sorts of dangers? The same goes for humans in the Technojungle. Settlers in the Wild Wild West carried guns and took great risks. They followed promises of land to farm and sometime riches to be found in gold. We follow promises into the Technojungle. The settlers faced unexpected challenges. A river could be just around the corner, the path could get rocky, a mountain might be in the way, or a desert to cross. Sometimes there were hostile people. Can you take a moment to compare the Technojungle with the Wild Wild West?

I see a big difference between the settlers of the Wild Wild West and we human settlers of the Technojungle. Many did not have to be there. They had left civilization to go West. Even if you were born in the West, you could go to another more civilized part of the world where there might be other, but lesser dangers. 

Is there any way to escape from the Technojungle? Can you find a place to hide? Well, you could disappear into the real jungle, but how many of us could survive in a jungle? It would not be a safe place for us humans. We require the Technojungle for our survival and life.

The pandemic forced people to move online for work, social, shopping, and other activities, including school. I noticed that fewer people would show up for an optional online meeting than for in person meetings. While the technology was available, many people seemed to struggle with it, or didn’t believe the online Technojungle version of a meeting would be effective. For whatever reasons, it seems easier for, and more important to, people to travel a distance than to attend something from where they are.

In my household, all of us have been fairly successful with our online activities. Still, we had an issue with depositing a cheque in the bank using a smartphone. It can sound simple, but the reality is different. 

Last night, we attended a strata meeting online. The representative from the property management company was in an office with some echo and the microphone was probably part of his computer on his desk and was a distance away. To top it all off, the fellow had an accent. Everyone else was at home and could be clearly heard. I struggle with hearing, having Tinnitus and Hyperacusis, so I use an external speaker with a microphone so my wife and I can clearly hear. Sill, I only managed to understand about 10 to 20 present of what he said.

Can we escape this Wild West Technojungle? Is it possible to exist in modern society without having devices and interacting in some way with the Internet? I think the last person I knew has finally succumbed to the Technojungle. Even if you are able to live without these technologies, when you interact in person with, for example, a bank, they input your information into their computers and—well I have already covered what can happen. So even though you might not input information yourself, you are still leaving a trail of footprints in the Technojungle due to the activities and efforts of other people. We don’t seem to have a choice, so we need survival skills.

Let’s use our imagination for a few minutes. Can you imagine you are at the end of a pipe that comes from your life and that through it flows all the information coming from all your activities where technology is involved? You have to think about, not just your computer, smartphone, or other devices, but consider the information that gets collected and transferred around the Technojungle by other people and corporations on your behalf. Take a few minutes to look, watch the flow and see what information is flowing back and forth. You might be amazed. Now can you consider what you might do with this information if you were another person or corporation?

As we go out on safari in the Technojungle, shouldn’t we learn a few ways to protect ourselves? We need to keep in mind that we are our information, and security and privacy are the new valuables of the Technojungle. Can we find ways to work together to make the Technojungle safer and more civilized—more humanizing.

Why is it so difficult to find protection? Today you don’t live in the online Technojungle in an enclosed house with privacy. In a sense, you may have when your computer did not connect outside of your own personal home on your own hard drive, locked away in your house. I think we live all over the Internet in databases and on servers everywhere in the Technojungle.  How can you lock the door to your online Technojungle? Where’s the insurance and who are the police? Can you set up a security system as you might for your house? If so, how can you test it? How can you trust it? Aren’t you out there exposed to the elements of the Technojungle? Think about it. Do you realize you can be attacked without anyone coming near you and without your knowing you have been attacked? At least when you came home to a house with a broken window or door you knew something was wrong. Our information can be taken and the thieves don’t have to worry about hauling anything down the street. They don’t even have to leave their basement or get dressed. Tracking them is difficult because of the digital world of the Technojungle. They cover their tracks as they go. 

You are out there exposed to the elements of the Technojungle.

We looked at tracking and tracing in book one. Can you remember how you are tracked while in your house? Can you remember how you are tracked as soon as you leave your house? Go back and read more about big data and The Internet of Things. Read more about smart devices. You know that your cell phone reveals to your service provider through the Technojungle who you are and where you are. Cameras are popping up all over cities to record everything. Some street corners have multiple cameras. I have even noticed more than one pointing in exactly the same direction. The recordings can be used to identify criminal behaviours. If the formal cameras and recordings are not enough, nearly everybody has a camera on their phone to take photos and videos of events happening around them. These can be instantly transmitted to the Technojungle and the world. I am amazed at the images and videos captured of split-second events. Somebody must always be pointing a camera somewhere.

To identify criminals, sophisticated facial recognition software can be used, but who says that facial recognition technology is only used by officials and only to identify criminals? You are tracked and recorded everywhere you go both in the physical world and especially in the online Technojungle world. There is no privacy and nowhere to hide. Your information is only as safe as the odds that a hacker has not got around to you yet. 

Facial recognition software and AI pose a precarious partnership with ethical implications. An example would be spotting a medical illness, such as heart disease, before a person knows about the condition. Even if they do know they have a condition, selfies and other photos used in conjunction with facial recognition and AI could be used by non-medical persons in unethical ways.

It is possible to protect ourselves to a certain extent. I mentioned my experience of tightening up my security and finding that getting around and doing things I was used to doing in the Technojungle got a lot more difficult. What can happen if you decide to tighten-up your security to protect your privacy? Is it possible to somehow hide, even a little? Some people pay to use a virtual private network (VPN). 

The Technojungle prefers to have you out in the open, fully exposed. We don’t even go outside our home without some protection, such as clothes. Protecting ourselves in the Technojungle requires time. We need to study how, learn knowledge and skills, set up, and manage our safety, security and privacy. 

You have to know your devices and the software settings. You need to keep up on changes brought about by automatic updates. You need to understand the settings for every online Technojungle service you use. You would have to read all the agreements you agreed to when signing up for a service and keep up with any changes they implement. 

You are probably thinking, that painstaking protective practices and procedures sounds too complicated to figure out and accomplish and, where am I supposed to find the time? Most humans have limited time in this future life of leisure we now supposed to be living in. Doesn’t the Technojungle keep most of us extremely busy? So much for the promise of leisure. Protecting ourselves is another great unexpected dilemma.

I have thought about my information—that is the information I have direct control over. I’m talking about what is on my computer. I back everything up on to external storage. But failures do occur. Sometimes my automatic backups just stop. I have had hard drives fail—the read/write heads can crash. It all takes time and effort. Then I think about all the cloud options. I can see why people are opting to rely on a corporate cloud service. Then I think about just how safe is my information when in the hands of a corporation. I think that, by reading this far in the two books, you probably understand my concerns.

So just how safe do you feel in the Technojungle? Does the Technojungle make you feel more or less human? In what ways? This book is not a how-to book, so we need to begin to discuss how to protect ourselves.

There are plenty of perils in the Technojungle. Treacherous tricks and traps abound everywhere. This is an important part of redeeming and reclaiming that which we may have lost, retaining and maintaining what we have today, and protecting our humanness and humanity for our future as we learn about being better human beings and living in a world of technology—the Technojungle.

We need to begin to consider how to protect ourselves—to defend ourselves in the Technojungle. Being safe is a touchy subject. It can stir our emotions. How does the Technojungle deal with human emotions?

1 Comment

  1. The Internet is often called the Wild, Wild, West of the digital world and that notion, in part, eventually lead me to the idea of calling it, and our entire world of technology, the Technojungle Ed: good image

    Like

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