Technology has grown in leaps and bounds. Over the last few decades, advancements in technology have seen the invention of computers, tablets, smartphones, and a range of wearable tech devices designed to add convenience to our lives.
While many over-50’s have embraced technology, there are some technological advancements that fill most of us with dread. A string of recent studies has found that society is becoming more scared of technological issues than they are of dying or ghosts.
One of the main issues driving this fear is the ever-increasing violation of privacy. From information gathering to surveillance, here are the five current or emerging technological trends that society fears the most.
1. Personal information tracking
Privacy concerns dominate many people’s fears today. The Chapman University Survey on American Fears revealed that corporate tracking of personal information and government tracking of personal information ranks at 3 and 5 respectively in America’s top technology-related fears.
Mass privacy breaches such as Facebook’s security breach saw the exposure of nearly 50 million users’ personal information. Security breaches like this can then lead to cyberterrorism attacks (the #1 ranked fear in this particular study), identity theft, and financial loss.
A survey conducted by CBT Nuggets revealed that across all generations, drones top the list in the most-feared technological advancement. Autonomous drones can be useful for many purposes, assisting in agricultural or property management, even fighting wildfires.
Yet the general public is rightly concerned about the potential privacy violations drones present. As a recent technology, regulations over drones and their use is still loosely policed, and Federal Aviation Administration regulations do not specifically address flight over residential areas. So while a drone flying overhead can be harmless fun in the eyes of a hobbyist, it can make the rest of us feel like we’re being watched.
Thanks to popular sci-fi movies, robots haven’t always been portrayed in the best light. The most terrifying part about advancements in artificial intelligence? The prospect of robots taking over our workforce.
The Center for Technology Innovation released a paper and hosted a panel discussion outlining how the workforce might change due to increased automation. And while fears arise over the prospect of artificial intelligence taking over, people continue to embrace the technology. In fact, 2 in 5 seniors use robot doctors by checking their symptoms online first before consulting a doctor.
4. Self-driving cars
One study into fears surrounding technology revealed that self-driving cars were one of the top concerns across all generations. While some cars on the road already have autopilot or driver-assist modes, the concept of a car that drives entirely on its own can be cause for concern.
Without someone manually driving or “taking the wheel,” these self-driving cars will have to make life-or-death decisions on their own. Which leaves many wondering about ethical dilemmas like — will the car prioritize the driver’s life at the expense of other road users? What would happen in a situation where the only options available are to run into this person or that person?
5. Home surveillance
Smart home gadgets have gained a lot of popularity in the last couple of years, with smart TVs, smart home devices, and even baby monitors bringing more cameras and facial recognition technology into our homes.
There have already been concerns about smart devices such as Amazon’s Alexa and their ability to “eavesdrop” in conversations, along with Smart TV’s collecting data such as the user’s viewing habits. These smart devices may be helpful and make life easier, yet they make it increasingly easy for criminals to hack, steal and sell personal information.
What does this really mean?
Well, most fears regarding technology stem from a lack of information. The fear of the unknown can make us fear the worst. While there are potential pitfalls in new and emerging technologies, the main purpose of artificial intelligence and the internet of things is to improve humanity and the lives of society.
And while the threat of security breaches exists, there’s hope in that tech companies are continuously working to better safeguard their products and services to minimize risks.
Despite these common fears, seniors are feeling more confident about technology and its potential in our daily lives and health than ever before.