João

Who is afraid of tech?

Sharing a small reflection about the implementation of tech to stop Covid-19.

Covid-19 changed our lives in an unprecedented way. We were faced with a frightening situation: an invisible killer who does not aim for any specific target and is able to spread in a blink of an eye. We are still unsure of when will the pharma companies be able to deliver vaccines and if the virus will disappear.

In the meanwhile, governments must make sure economies restart. This is a bitter period for SMEs who are not able to resist the months without their businesses running, and technology could be a big enabler for this and smartphones the main instruments to make it happen.

Some countries, such as China and Israel, were quick to implement systems to control the population and reduce the spread of the virus. China implemented an app that informs users of the risk they are facing, depending on characteristics such as age and location. Israel opted to follow the same path and deployed measures to track down every citizen. Needless to say, neither of the two countries required a consensus to deploy their tech systems.

Is this the reason why we fear tech controlling the masses? The most visible examples we have are taken to the extreme. Can we find a mid-term?

The European Commission was quick to scold Apple and Google to make sure both tech giants would adapt their tracking apps to the European reality, where GDPR intends to safeguard our privacy. The motto à la Silicon Valley “move fast and break things” does not seem to work in the EU no more.

GPS systems are a no-go, but the Old Continent is good with Bluetooth systems since they are less intrusive and capable of informing people if they were close to someone infected. But there is a problem with this: according to specialists, to be effective, these Bluetooth apps need at least 60% of the population to adopt them – which might be a great barrier for effectiveness.

My question is: would you be willing to give up on some of your freedom to prevent the disease from spreading and have more information available?

If the answer is no, the follow-up question would be: what NEW data would the authorities or the big tech companies have access to with these systems?

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