Life in 2019 can be quite the trip. Today I discovered I can sign up with the United States Post Office to get an email every time I receive mail. Apparently, it will even send me a picture of the mail. This is touted as a convenient feature for people who are away from home a lot or live in an apartment complex with a hefty walk to the mailbox.
It seems like every time I turn around there are more and more options that make life more convenient. Some of these things I am a huge fan of. For example, grocery pickup at Walmart. I have enjoyed not having to invest the time in shopping for food in person, especially when they are rearranging the grocery section every 12 minutes during the remodel of the Sedalia store.
So many of us seem to immediately flock to whatever new convenient technology that exists, without a second thought of what effect it will have on things like our privacy or security. There was a couple in the news who had the smart features of their home hacked and he gained control of their smart devices. This allowed him to do things like turn the thermostat to 90, turn the lights on at 2 a.m. and play Mariah Carey at extreme levels. Also, many people have installed things like Amazon Alexa devices in their homes, which automatically listens to all conversations.
Even doing DNA tests like 23 and Me can violate your privacy in ways you don’t think about. So many Americans have done those tests that now, 90% of Caucasians could be identified in a crime via DNA. It also recently came to light that most of the data derived from people voluntarily sending in DNA samples has been turned over to the government.
I could go on and on about ways our privacy has been violated by emerging technologies without us knowing. It seems like everything from adult toys to ATMs has been named in the news as a hacking or identity theft threat.
John McAffee, founder of McAffee security software, current fugitive from the American government and presidential hopeful, once said, “Convenience is the enemy of security.” And he is absolutely right. Without proper oversight, all of this stuff that makes our lives easier can mean that we are giving up almost all of our rights to privacy, anominity and safety without knowing it. Also, I think some of us can get a little lazy in other areas because we are now used to technology taking care of things for us.
Take car break-ins for example. I see plea after plea from law enforcement agencies telling people to lock their cars to avoid break-ins and not to leave valuables like guns, computers, etc., in plain sight. To me, this seems like common sense; locking a car door takes approximately half a second with key fobs. And even without key fobs it does not take very long. But the convenience technology and automation provide can make people complacent and thieves are more willing to take advantage of that.
I am interested to see what technology comes up with next. The last two decades have been a whirlwind of innovation. Hopefully, it will be self-locking car doors.
On another subject: I have a sad update from my column last week. I wrote about a person who was in the middle of a six-month wait to see a specialist. Unfortunately, she passed away this past weekend. She was my friend’s mother and this loss is heartbreaking and she will be missed. Far too many families in America go through similar situations. And something needs to change.