Saturday, September 22, 2012

Technology and violence

INCREASINGLY, the world is desirous of peace and the people of the world are feverishly working and cooperating to initiate, promote, sustain and entrench global peace and harmony in whatever ways and forms possible. Much as efforts to promote peace and harmony are sustained, increasing violence continues to undermine such efforts as it manifests itself in different forms and degrees.

The violence
perpetrated through the engagement (or non engagement) of technology, especially in the contemporary times provides greater impetus of concern for me. The violence perpetrated with the use of information communication technology is much of an issue and concern. Information communication technology, no doubt has positively impacted on lives and the world. Yet, it has equally constituted its own nuisance to humanity, when mishandled.

Technology has long been used as tools for violence, from clubs and swords to cluster bombs and precision guarded missiles. It has equally produced products that are enormously beneficial to humanity. Technology has helped and still helping to cure sicknesses and diseases (through powerful drugs), prolonging lives in the process. It helps ensure high farm yields and maximum food production to feed the growing population. It helps to increase the speed at which we do business and manufacturing. It helps and is still helping to enhance closely knit families, provides means of speedy transportation and communication. Of more concern is the perpetration of violence through the use or misuse of Information Communication Technology. The extent of such benefits can be appreciated in terms of trillions of dollars invested in the sector globally. ICT has been very beneficial to the human rights community, politicians, the military, researchers, etc and to democratic governance.

It has made communication easier, brought people closer and open unimaginable windows of opportunities for people in terms of business, acquisition of knowledge and relationship with people of different races, religions and creed.

Politicians are speedily becoming ICT-compliant, because of the strategic electoral advantages it can confer on their aspirations. Politicians use social media networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, Ning to sell their programmes and manifesto and to solicit support and votes from the electorate. Information sharing and dissemination remains one of the major engagements of ICT, long ago, people follow the news, but today, it is the news that followed the people. Today, alternative news websites have been used to provide information, to share more information and to create collective knowledge; ICT has enhanced the ability to disseminate information from and to vast and relatively powerful and connected audience with ease.

Despite all these massive and immeasurable benefits of technology and ICT, its misuse in the society has contributed to violate our cherished values of chaste and purity. It undermines our sense of togetherness and brotherhood. It breeds hatred, suspicion, impunity, immorality, crime, fraud, violence and terrorism. They have used it to violate privacy and disrupt social relationships.

It has been used and is still used by maniacs, fraudsters, pedophiles assassins, criminals and terrorists.

Mobile phone contains text and other multimedia messages. Text messages have been used to instigate violence in places like Jos, Kaduna and some other states in northern Nigeria, yet, there is no concrete evidence to legislate to control these dangerous trends. Rumours circulated through the text contribute to escalate violence in several parts of these states. Gory and lurid images of violence and sex are freely circulated using Blackberry. Potential terrorists, bombers and their accomplices use the Blackberry to identify and attack targets. Also, because of the coded nature of the Blackberry, violent people and potential terrorist may use it to communicate with each other without being tracked or monitored.

Also, internet forum groups have been used and are still used as platforms for fanning the embers of discord, attacks and on the sensibilities of others (from other faith groups) or for propagating ethnic agenda.

It is now easier for terror group to search for their victims, and other specific targets and attack them and even train others in the attack plans. Terrorists have engaged information obtained from the internet to produce bombs and other improvised explosive devices and other dangerous and poisonous chemicals that can easily be deployed to cause deaths in hundreds of thousands. Also, assassins don’t need to suffer in getting the images/or photos of their victims/target as all they need do is to Google and browse the Facebook page or Google images to get multiple results. Cyber crime is on the increase without restraint. Hackers and stalkers are having a field day online, sending dangerous viruses to compromise valuable data of enemies or to detonate explosives and nuclear agents stored in strong silos. Manipulation of the internet is used to steal coded passwords and of credit cards and emails resulting in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars. Online victimisation of young people through sexual harassment and messages with sexual undertones constitute violence against young people.

Publication of indecent information to embarrass and degrade women constitutes violence through technology against women. The ICT is being used to advance the rhetoric’s of war and undermine national security. Terrorists are mastering the manipulation faster and ahead of security agents that ought to be more knowledgeable than these criminals.

International organisations, governments, policy leaders, civil society organisations and concerned individuals need to cooperate and collaborate to find ways to reduce the engagement of technology in an unethical manner. This should be done through genuine, credible, proactive and forward looking legislations to regulate ICT engagements.

Campaigns to mitigate the impact of abuse and misuse of ICT and other forms of technology should be topmost. Individuals should pledge to work for the “clean” use of technology. Strong legislation to discourage cyber crimes must be put in place. Scientific ways must be put in place to restrict the production of arms and ammunition especially through treaties, surveillance and direct inspections. Capacity of those who can work to prevent cyber crime and ICT abuse should be built and developed to enhance their effectiveness.

The more we work to promote the best attributes of men, the better they can engage in ethical use of technology for peace and not violence.


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