Cash king if sys­tems crash

The Gympie Times - - YOUR SAY - COLIN CLAR­IDGE

MANKIND’S tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments over the past cen­tury have been quite re­mark­able. From pow­ered flight to space and from chalk­boards to lap­tops.

We’ve cer­tainly made a fu­ture that would ap­pear un­recog­nis­able to our great grand­par­ents. But when it comes to com­mon sense, our fore­bears of­ten had it all over us.

I mean, how else can one de­scribe the de­ci­sion of who­ever it was in Queens­land Trans­port to re­place bus shel­ters with struc­tures not fit for pur­pose? Shel­ter they don’t.

From rain that finds per­fo­rated metal walls no bar­rier to drench­ing any­one un­for­tu­nate enough to be wait­ing for a bus to roofs that don’t ex­tend far enough to ei­ther shel­ter said hap­less bus users from afore­men­tioned rain or from the sum­mer sun; that quickly turns metal seats into a bar­be­cue grille.

Is it any won­der on any given sum­mer af­ter­noon, one will find peo­ple stand­ing in the shade BE­HIND rather than IN th­ese struc­tures.

And where was com­mon sense when some­one on the Coun­cil de­cided that peo­ple re­ally didn’t need the shade once pro­vided by the ad­ja­cent tree; which has now been lopped back so se­verely as to no longer be of any use.

Com­mon sense would dic­tate that what I have been told is a Swedish-de­signed struc­ture is com­pletely un­suit­able for the rav­ages of Queens­land weather.

The IKEAi­sa­tion of bus shel­ters be­gan be­ing rolled out some six or so years ago, re­plac­ing bus shel­ters which did ac­tu­ally shel­ter.

One just won­ders if Queens­land Trans­port opted to ig­nore the nu­mer­ous emails point­ing to their folly.

It just seems some­times that our en­thu­si­asm to em­brace ev­ery­thing new and shiny comes with a dis­re­gard to com­mon sense.

In re­cent days, we’ve seen faults in ser­vices pro­vided by Tel­stra cause wide­spread an­noy­ance and in­con­ve­nience and po­ten­tially a pub­lic safety is­sue. One won­ders if this is what is ac­tu­ally meant by “dig­i­tal dis­rup­tion”.

Au­thor­i­ties in South Aus­tralia lost track of more than 700 of­fend­ers when the Tel­stra fault ren­dered an­kle bracelets in­op­er­a­ble.

Thank­fully, we don’t put mur­der­ers on home de­ten­tion but the sit­u­a­tion ex­poses the folly of man be­com­ing too re­liant on the dig­i­tal age with­out en­sur­ing that fail-safe sys­tems are in place.

As of­ten as many un­der the age of 40 no longer see a use for ac­tual phys­i­cal cash, the events of last week showed ex­actly how lost they be­come when they can’t swipe to their lit­tle hearts’ de­sires.

Com­mon sense would dic­tate that peo­ple should carry some cash on their per­sons for just such sys­tem fail­ures... but noooooo.

But we over 50 should re­sist the temp­ta­tion to smirk be­cause if the mil­len­ni­als have their way, they’ll make it a mis­sion to pres­sure Gov­ern­ment to do away with the cost of print­ing notes and coins al­to­gether.

Com­mon sense would dic­tate that (par­tic­u­larly as the Tel­stra out­ages show) the safe­guards and back-up sys­tems against fail­ures do not ex­ist and no one will ever be able to guar­an­tee that they ever will.

This week’s an­nounce­ment by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment that longer jail sen­tences and big­ger fines will be im­posed on any­one hack­ing into the med­i­cal e-records sys­tem does noth­ing to al­lay fears con­cern­ing the sys­tem’s se­cu­rity.

Threats of jail and fines are all well and good but will be of no com­fort to any pa­tient who gets hacked. Com­mon sense would dic­tate that if you are not pre­pared to make the sys­tem as se­cure as Pine Gap, then don’t im­ple­ment it in the first place.

Tech­nol­ogy is won­der­ful when it works. But as we move ever in­creas­ingly closer to ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence re­plac­ing the hu­man ele­ment in many as­pects of the econ­omy, has any­one de­signed an al­go­rithm for com­mon sense?

Who cur­rently wan­der­ing the cor­ri­dors of Par­lia­ment is ca­pa­ble of guid­ing us through the dig­i­tal age? The Queens­land Gov­ern­ment proved how in­ca­pable it was in look­ing af­ter that group of Aus­tralian tax­pay­ers called taxi drivers when the US-based cor­po­ra­tion Uber mus­cled its way into the space.

And one won­ders just how ca­pa­ble it will be in en­sur­ing that Uber’s lat­est de­sire to re­place the hu­man ele­ment of its busi­ness costs with driver­less ve­hi­cles comes with the nec­es­sary safe­guards. Be­cause one just doesn’t want to be in one of those things if sud­denly hacked.

We there­fore look to our po­lit­i­cal lords and mas­ters to use com­mon sense as they ne­go­ti­ate ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy and take full re­gard to the pit­falls.

Should we be afraid?

Photo: Ildo Frazao

BACK-UP PLANS: Wouldn’t it just be com­mon sense to carry some cash on us in case of sys­tem fail­ures, asks Colin Clar­idge.

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