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The impact of technology on our freedoms

Is there another way of looking at technology? How is technology impacting our freedoms? And what can we do to make things better? We answered each of these three questions in a 10-minute talk for IT Talent College about the current state of privacy and technology.

Is there another way of looking at technology?
In this first part we use the thinking of Marshall McLuhan to show that technology is never neutral and is always political. McLuhan’s distinction between figure and ground can help us see social networking in a different way. We explain how technology mediates most of our interactions nowadays and why this means that Google knows (parts of) us better than we know ourselves.

How is technology impacting our freedoms?
Here we show how commercial and centralized (global) powers are starting to govern our lives. Sometimes this governance is very clear and explicit (e.g. Facebook not allowing you to post certain images), but more often the governance isn’t very transparant (e.g. Google changing a route on Google Maps to accomodate for complaints). We explain how the web has turned into a giant tracking machine as a consequence of Surveillance Capitalism and that our governments are happy to (ab)use our datafied world.

What can we do to make things beter?
If we want to stay free, then we need to start regulating the information giants and we should start using a set of diverse, decentralized and free (as in freedom) pieces of software. IT students can help make things better too. They should be conscious, aware and reflective about the technology that they use, they should get their own domain and run their own services, and finally they can help us by doing their bit.

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