THE DANGER WITH TECH
As our Mizzima Weekly cover story, Tech Hub Growth, Myanmar has a lively technology and software development community focused on putting the “Made in Myanmar’ stamp on technology products and services in the country.
Some of these ventures began on laptops in a person’s bedroom or in a coffee shop, in some ways little different from the birthing pains of Facebook, Microsoft or Apple that emerged from humble beginnings. In addition, there is a growing support system for tech start-ups to encourage tech development in Myanmar. Much of what is being rolled out will arguably improve the lives of people here. All good, as they say.
But there are reasons to be vigilant. Most of the high-tech products and services will come from abroad, primarily from America’s Silicon Valley and China’s Shenzhen. And its adoption will be sold to the public as a panacea for their busy lives and as “faster” “better” entertainment options.
Ironically, because Myanmar is playing catch-up, it is lagging behind some of the tech developments being rolled out in more developed countries under the rubric of this “smart” technology and the “Internet of Things” and this might actually prove to be a good thing.
The Myanmar public needs to be alert to what experts say are the dangers posed by “smart” technology because by and large it is a Trojan Horse sold on the premise it will make life easier, more efficient and safer.
We do not have enough space in this editorial to explain the dangers posed by the “surveillance capitalism” being rolled out by tech giants Google and Facebook, the surveillance state apparatus including facial recognition installed in the “social credit system” of Chinese cities and creeping into Western cities, nor the potential dangers and health hazards posed by 5G telecom systems. Suffice to say, in-depth studies by journalists and scientists point to the serious threats in terms of “control” and “freedoms” and physical and mental health.
As author Shoshana Zuboff points out, none of these developments are necessary for the public to go about their lives. On the contrary, they are unnecessary. And, as the research points out, the threats they pose are frightening.
Myanmar is late to the party – but that may give people here a chance to question whether they want their rights, freedoms, and even health threatened by these new “smart” technologies that are currently being aggressively rolled out in a number of Western countries.
While most people in the West are oblivious to the dangers and being sold a false narrative by governments and media, there is pushback. Some cities are banning 5G, for example. “Smart meters” are proving dangerous. Careful Google searches will reveal the many studies, stories, videos and documentaries that lay bare the potential for a dystopian future.
All this is far removed from the sterling efforts of Myanmar’s tech developers whose work it can be argued will benefit people in a number of areas. Little to worry about here.
But going forward the challenge will come from the tech giants who attempt to impose “smart” solutions and slip conditions into the small text where the user hands over control of their personal data. And, as you probably surmise, they are already here.