Home > All, Security Issues > When personal responsibility goes out the window, problems come in through the front door

When personal responsibility goes out the window, problems come in through the front door

Socially, it started with the rise of socialism in the last century. People stopped being responsible for themselves and became reliant on the State. Problems followed.

Domestically, it probably started with Dr Spock and the ’60s; and has escalated ever since. Parents abdicated responsibility for their children and gave it over to teachers, doctors and the police. Problems followed.

Now we are doing the same with our cyber lives – we are delegating responsibility for our actions, our safety, our privacy and our security to laws, regulations and automated systems. And problems will follow. In fact they’ve already started with a brilliant example reported by Yahoo News.

Georgia High School was locked down on Wednesday when a gunman was reported to be on campus. There was no gunman. It was a false positive. A text message was inadvertently sent to the wrong recipient. It said “Gunman be at West Hall today”. The recipient didn’t know the sender, so immediately reported it – and the school went into lockdown complete with a police perimeter.

But it was a simple technological error. The original text message said ‘Gunna be (going to be) at West Hall today.’ It was the smartphone’s autocorrect, unnoticed by the sender, that changed ‘gunna’ into ‘gunman’.

This is the writing on the wall. As more and more actions and processes become automated and further away from anyone able to take responsibility for the response, Terry Wrist will be arrested, IObject.com will get taken down, comedians will be harassed, tourists arrested for photographing the wrong building, motorists barred because their license plate was blurred, Indy music blocked because a few notes sound similar to other music written 50 years ago on a different continent, and God knows what else, all done automatically and without human intervention. At the moment, a false positive is an annoying side-effect of anti-virus: in the future it will become a life-changing, and possibly life-threatening, probability.

Categories: All, Security Issues
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