Technology That Scares Us | TECH(talk)

back to tech talk I’m Ken Mingis
executive editor at computer world I’m here with PCworld Macworld’s
Michael Simon and Juliet Beauchamp running the video operation here to talk
about technology that scares us of course Halloween’s coming so it’s a good
time to talk about that just a quick reminder if you’re watching us on
YouTube you should subscribe to our YouTube channel so you get future
episodes if you’re watching us on LinkedIn live please follow the computer
world page and again for the same reason if you’ve got questions or comments
along the way about maybe technology that frightens
you please leave them in the comments we will be checking to see if there’s
anything we can we can weigh in on so Michael thanks for being here how
spooktacular here what do you mean e not I’m part of it part of the Blue Man
Group ah yes I’m part of the Blue Man Group without the without the makeup
technology you know I mean I know it’s sort of it’s kind of a joke in some ways
that you know everybody’s sort of scared of something technology wise but you
know there are a lot of things that are sort of happening right now around
social media platforms around AI facial recognition that I think do actually
offer some genuine frights and scares that people should be aware of so you
know we’ve talked about this earlier and you were like technology doesn’t scare
me yeah well so does it or not well the the basis the the bottom floor of where
we’re at right now is just it’s it’s remarkable you know in the last what
five years maybe this stuff has just exploded I’m talking about sports smart
speakers smart home yep stuff you know the iPhone is 12 years old that launched
all the smart phone stuff and that’s that’s amazing that we have these be no
powerful little panhandler pcs in our pocket but you know without really even
making a like like one monumental splash we have alexa we have Google assistant
we have Siri all these things I’ve kind of slowly integrated and just taking
over our homes and I walk into my house when I get home the lights go on our
door locks cameras outside are always recording and you know with with little
cost little effort and really little thought goes into it and my home is you
know it’s completely secure I’ll give you an example couple weeks ago I have a
bunch of Hollywood weand decorations outside you know and I
was checking on them with my family we all went outside the three of us I have
an eight-year-old son no my wife son and I went outside and I ran inside to to
grab something and absent-mindedly closed the front door okay behind you as
you win as I went out okay as you went out okay so when that happens it’s it’s
it sets off a timer in motion yeah so in two minutes if I don’t come back
it’s locked it locks okay now if I have a phone on
me I can get back in I didn’t my wife didn’t okay the back door same thing
everything so everything’s locked yeah and so I’m yelling to Alexa from my back
porch all right so I mean had I I’m sorry Michael I can’t do that well
that’s exactly what it said because I hadn’t updated my my August smart lock
with my new code you know so it was saying you know go to the Alexa app and
I went to my neighbor’s house to borrow their phone you know to log into my
August app and I couldn’t remember my password I couldn’t get into my most
frightening thing here is your memory well yeah that’s that’s part of it but I
mean hey we have unique passwords okay so we press we write about and I
couldn’t get into my password manager without my encrypted key which I don’t
know so I was stuck what I was what I did do know how you got in I called
triple-a okay and I had triple-a and the reason
why you call triple-a I’ll tell you okay because I fished for whatever reason I
hadn’t put my car in the garage okay I have a smart car wash door opener
as well get into that athle that okay so I was able to call triple-a who was able
to use an old-fashioned method well they have a thing where they kind of slide it
in Jimmy’s pump a bit of air and then I was able to use my you know my infrared
garage a code from my garage door okay I was
able to do that so two things here one smart homes only work if you’re not a
moron yeah – you’re smart if you’re smart and
you know but the other thing was smart home requires a smart own it
absolutely does but on the other hand it worked
yeah like I like there are a bunch of steps there you know and they’d you know
that so so you know people say you know this that these smart homes know
everything about you sure they didn’t know was me they didn’t let me in and
you know so so the point of that convoluted story is we’re still in
control of this technology yeah like there’s nothing that sentient there’s
nothing that Alexis not we’re not you’re Skynet all right and even Skynet wasn’t
senti what it started you know the basis of the Terminator program wasn’t – it’s
not the greatest name Brandon Brandon you choose Skynet yeah but you know that
wasn’t the point you know will we reach a point where Alexa is so smart that it
knows my voice it knows my I mean and it does in a way you know it does it does
it can recognize cadence and it can you know there are multiple users but it’s
not to the point where I can just say Alexa and I can say hello Michael what
do you need yeah how far away are we from that and
that’s that’s where the I think the fear is will come into play right now where
we’re putting forth fears that are somewhat unfounded we’re sort of future
oriented yeah basically fears that could happen five 10 20 years down the road if
technology continues to track the way it’s tracking now right right where I’d
say we’re you know a decade maybe more away from exactly oh yeah
AI as we call it for programs yeah you know it needs to be updated it learns to
a certain extent you know our patterns you know like my phone will say in the
morning do you want to open tour because you do that every damn that’s right
so they’re they’re still humans that we’re still in control of our fates
yeah beak I would I would argue along those lines and in case you’re just
tuning in talking about technology that scares us
in frightens us and why I would argue that we have already passed the point
where technology is faster than we can understand the world around us and
because I was thinking about this coming in and one of the things that scares me
it’s not so much a technology as it is a platform and it’s Facebook you know the
ability for information to travel or disinformation to travel faster than we
can then we can basically check it and you know I think there are a lot of
ramifications for what that means for societies in general for you know that
the fate of the world as we know it not to be too dramatic about it and I think
there’s actually you know based on what Mark Zuckerberg has talked about even
recently I don’t think Facebook has come to grips with the fact that it is more
than just a platform it is a publisher in some ways and its decision to allow
advertising by candidates to be literally untrue you know because they
don’t want to be in the business of policing free speech they say free
speech I think that adds to the the disinformation campaigns that are going
on out there and I find that you know I find that
kind of scary I don’t think that’s a good thing I don’t have a solution yeah
although I would argue that you know you probably should require advertising on
your site to be truthful at least if it’s coming from you know political
candidate Colgate says we have the blah blah toothpaste and Christmas toothpaste
yes and that’s been going on since the dawn of time what’s the bigger problem
now is that it’s becoming so difficult to know what’s real and what’s not even
from so-called trusted sources like The Wall Street Journal all their New York
Times you know I don’t trust anything but we’re journalists of course it never
lied present company excluded a few things
but you know we’re journalists we’re trained to have a critical you know
prove it you say the sky is blue absolute job and that’s what we as what
we’ve done our careers we built our careers on it and now we’re just more
heightened because there’s so much information but most people believe what
they’re told or what they say it’s a very passive way of taking
information especially if it’s from a source that they believe in that they
trust like Fox News like and this NBC or you know some some / they see it less
like they go to every day yeah they but but it’s amplified by Twitter
who creates personalities out of those brands no they’re not just a TV network
right you know CNN talks to me what I mean is that brands are you know like
they Wendy use a fight with McDonald’s like they’re they’re they’re larger than
just companies so when they tell you something you trust them like you would
a friend and that’s where all of that that that’s where that that’s where
technology scares me is we’re losing the ability to discern right what’s real
what’s fake what’s what’s important what’s not – I would argue – that you
know one of the things with social media platforms and this goes beyond just
Facebook is that there is and this goes back to my point there is so much
information now that it’s delivered you know in real time all the time wherever
you are that it’s almost impossible for many people and myself included to try
to separate the signal from the noise you know and and I think that that we’re
in some ways the human consciousness collectively is being overwhelmed by the
amount of information we now have in our you know in our hands and I don’t think
we figured out yet how to deal with that and I’m not I don’t I don’t even know if
we can because there it’s generally the human element that messes everything up
people often people sewing stories and and information that is untrue knowingly
yeah like they that’s what they’re they’re stock-in-trade it’s like people
make their businesses based on that no and you know so the technology is only
good as what we fit into it at going back to the story of me not getting into
my house had ice you know and now I have those steps set up and I set up one of
those steps properly I would have been fine because I would have had my
password I would have gotten in but I didn’t know and that’s there’s you were
the you were the weak link yeah epic knowledge II did what it was supposed to
doing Facebook is doing what it’s post to do right the people being true
your is the problem right so we blame Facebook we blame Mark Zuckerberg and he
of course he has some culpability you know he owns it yeah and he’s also being
very callous about how to wait for word you know he’s kind of playing both sides
and speaking out of both sides now then people get frustrated with that but it’s
the people that cause the issue that insert the problems that bring the the
the fear Jonas well I mean when you think about it too and we can move away
from Facebook but you know one final point there is that Facebook is designed
to encourage engagement yes an engagement happens when people get
irritated angry I mean sure you can like you know you can watch lots of pretty
happy cat videos and dog videos but you know when somebody calls you an idiot
that’s likely to engage you more absolutely and more and and the
repetition there so it’s almost an enragement machine that keeps people
coming back something else that scares me and in case you’re just tuning in and
I should remind you we’re talking about technology that scares us in honor of
Halloween yeah boo facial recognition you know I think you
know aside from AI and I think the the ability you know there are a lot of
companies that have done a lot with facial recognition and seeing that in
the hands of governments that are not well almost any government I’m sort of
suspicious of any government that has that kind of ability to track people in
real-time and of course you know I know a lot of people say my phone is being
tracked by the government and you know maybe it is maybe it’s not but I think
there’s a danger there too I mean a lot of this stuff starts to look like Big
Brother 1984 real quickly if if if in the wrong hands and once again I don’t
see how you end the march of technology forward I don’t think facial recognition
is going anywhere it’s not gonna go away it’s gonna scale up it’s gonna be able
to be scaled up much more quickly than it is and even now and I think that’s
going to open the door for a lot of potential system suppression of you know
entire nations yeah well I mean maybe that’s too scary you know on the one
hand I think we put too much we give the government too much stock I mean they
can’t even run themselves properly now we’re gonna die gotta track 300 billion
people but let’s say that is you let’s say they are maybe not now but in
our mythical 5 to 10-year view year I think ends yeah I mean of course there’s
a fear that you can use that information people who work the government can you
know have them dead as against people they know personal things on a wider
scale certainly you know minority groups who have been suppressed over the course
of history you know now it becomes that much easier to do so on the other hand
facial recognition is something that is important to developing security yep
and so there’s a there’s always ours it’s never purely one or the other yes
always and you can say descending about fingerprints you know and they’ve been
using fingerprints forever yeah and that’s a way to track people as
well it’s harder and it’s you know you need to be physically near someone but
what we’ve seen in the rise of facial recognition since I don’t know three
years ago even you hundred face ID come out I mean that was three years ago I
mean it’s it’s just exploded yeah and it’s it’s good it’s fast it’s smart it’s
secure it’s cool and you know Android starting to get into it now and you know
it’s varying results and you know some issues but it’s the fact that we have a
thing in our pocket that can you know scan our face 3d know it’s us unlock our
phone you know that’s that’s like the ultimate security for your information
which is here I mean there’s everything you want everything you know everything
you have it’s here yeah and you want that to be as secure as possible yes 15
digit passcode is the most secure no one’s gonna do that no we want
biometrics and right now facial recognition is is the one yeah good
point I should I should ask Juliet you know since she is part of this to
whether or not there are any technology fears that you’re worried about I am
with you on the facial facial recognition I know I don’t know if you
guys have been to the airport recently but it seems like there’s these booths
where you can sort of bypass security it’s sort of like similar to TSA
PreCheck but you can do it immediately and it seems like there’s some sort of
biometric data gathered about you and that is a little scary to me because
it’s not even as though it’s the TSA or some sort of for some reason a private
company having my biometric data scares me more than a public entity like the
TSA I can understand that was the thing about a private companies you have
absolutely I mean no way of dictating how that data and that information is
protected it’s just shared used you know at least
with the government theoretically at least here in the US you have some way
of you know petitioning the government to like you know turn something off or
delete the files or come up with privacy legislation or something like that but
with private companies you don’t I’m always amazed by people who are on
Facebook concerned about privacy is there posting everywhere that they are
what they’re meeting what they’re doing where they’ve been where you know where
they live I mean and so you know I mean everyone has a line everybody whatever
everyone has it has a line you know what they’re willing to to share and I don’t
think you know most people who post a Facebook or Instagram or Twitter
they don’t necessarily correlate their privacy with what they share like it’s
well I’m choosing to share this yeah I’m not choosing to share theirs like well
you know it doesn’t quite work that well I think once you’re out there in total
all of that stuff aggregated by the companies that are collecting that data
so maybe each discrete place you post or every picture you take in and of itself
doesn’t say a lot about you but everything they had done over the last
ten years it can give an advertiser or a company or a government a very good idea
for who you are absolutely and what matters to you yeah I should pause and
see if we’ve got any questions or comments from anybody that may be
frightened by technology and if not and we’ll assume all as well yeah I mean I I
don’t see that as much as a scary right now I really don’t think we’re gonna
wind up with like Vickie and iRobot you know taking over the room and eventually
it’s possible but all well we were talking we had we did an interview
yesterday with Keith Shaw who’s at a robotics
site now and he was talking about the the fact that artificial intelligence is
it’s still really a ways out yeah it’s true art you can really art of sentience
yeah there’s nowhere near that so I think the idea that artificial
intelligence can evolve any good we might never get there it’s certainly not
in our lived right I don’t think we will not in our lifetime anyways great okay
that was an awesome discussion any final thoughts Juliet before we wrap it up for
the day I was thinking I mean we can wrap it up shortly but I think one that
you guys like I kind of touched on maybe with a little bit with AI is autonomous
driving and can I know we’ve recently had a discussion about autonomous cars
and I think I also had a discussion with Lucas a week or so back about autonomous
driving and that is something that certainly concerns me a bit um I think
once everyone is in an autonomous car I’m not gonna be as worried or concerned
about it but I mean as it is I’m already worried about other drivers on the road
so because I live in Massachusetts it’s different out here than in Pennsylvania
so I think that’s something that is a bit scary to me but you know so but
similar to AI that’s one of those things it’s like technology where there are
good there is good and bad I think autonomous driving in autonomous systems
are not inherently bad I think obviously one of the problems we
have right now is you’ve got real world real-life drivers humans on the highways
at the same time you’ve got you know autonomous driving vehicles and I don’t
think those two play very well together so it’s this transition time I agree
once the entire world assuming it gets that it gets that way is fully at
autonomous when it comes to driving the chances of accidents and things like
that will probably go down it’s the fact that you’ve got the human error problem
what you were talking about earlier you know it’s the human and is the Winkley
we clear Lincoln 100% of actions accidents are caused by us yes
whether we’re speeding or drinking or not paying attention or texting whatever
yeah whatever it is humans cause the act I mean rarely does a brake fail right
you know what was the point oh one percent probably where there’s a car
problem yeah and that causes the accident but so you
know where if you’re afraid of of an autonomous car we get into Obert drivers
wouldn’t know any of who these people are taxis buses it’s far more likely for
someone to drive off a cliff for a car to decide I don’t like you anymore
you’re out of here I’m all for autonomous cars because you
know it would first of all it would end congestion rubbernecking all the things
that drive road race all job I love to drive I love to drive I drove an hour
and a half to get here this morning just to be with all I appreciate that I drove
an hour but we can still have a car yeah just you know just can’t do anything
with it we would get in and let it take us but I mean unless you’re like I’m
assuming Europe you know you’re a stand-up guy so what’s the difference
you’re still you so you get to enjoy your car yeah and someone else takes
care of all that stuff for you and there’s no more road rage you don’t get
angry at some guy tailgate I usually don’t do I don’t do a road rage I just
get out of the party drunk well this is Massachusetts autonomous driving doesn’t
scare me I have to admit and when you think about the safety safety systems
that are now in cars that yeah you know see ahead automatic braking lane the
stuff that’s already there is actually really really impressive and I think it
does cut down on accidents totally because of the human fact I can’t even
tell you how many times I’ve so now you can text and drive all as much as you
want right the you know just putting on my blinker to go in the other Lane you
know that little blind spot yeah you know one out of 50 times I would have
not noticed that guy was there yeah because it’s a smaller car or I didn’t
turn my head all the way whatever it is and I got that little beep yep and I
know immediately and you keep going yeah get in my way so I think this point
being technology can be scary the potential for technology to be scary is
is real but as always there is a there is a positive side to the technology
when you people are the problem when technologies used for good rather than
ill it is not necessarily a bad thing yeah cool but we’re we’re the problem
folks be okay be afraid of us yeah technology’s fine the human beings
everything at least when it comes to driving right password security you know
the human factor okay on that on that cheerful next week’s show we’ll see if
we survive Michael thank you for being here Juliet
thanks for weighing in and being here as well just a quick reminder that coming
up next Thursday I believe we’re going to be doing a live a LinkedIn live and a
YouTube live tech talk with Jay import from CSO to talk about printer security
scary printers coming up next week in the meantime if you like the shows that
you’re seeing please subscribe to our YouTube channel please follow the
computer world LinkedIn live page and we’ll be back soon thanks for watching

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