Zooming into the future is dooming us to a cyber crime pandemic

Ideas

Zooming into the future is dooming us to a cyber crime pandemic

Technology software during lockdown offers plenty of solutions, but leaves us vulnerable

James Titcomb

The adage that it is easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission was in circulation before most of today’s tech moguls were born, but Silicon Valley has adopted it enthusiastically.

“Move fast and break things”, a mutation of the phrase, but one that shares its spirit, was Facebook’s unofficial motto for years. Many tech companies have prioritised growth above all else, seeing the world as territory they must conquer before somebody else does. Accomplish that, then ask the hard questions afterwards.

In the past few years, the downsides of that approach have become more apparent. Facebook’s breakneck growth led it to collect enormous quantities of personal data and questionable privacy practices, and it was only once it had won that its downsides became apparent. YouTube kept viewers glued to their screens with algorithms that promoted the most attention-grabbing videos, which for many people turned out to be conspiracy theories. Uber charged into cities, hoping it would become too popular to ban once public officials had caught up...

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