A quick word on a new World

Shaping a world from the unexpected into the unknown poses a harsh challenge for Humankind, and that is when we see it working.

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

South Korea & Social Networks

The COVID-19 pandemic has a huge bearing on our society. It’s not new that “ideas don’t move mountains, but show the bulldozers where to work”, so I believe the network of our brains can jump out and make collaborative progress towards an optimal result to this outbreak.

South Korea had it wrong from the start, like many other countries. But their effective testing program rapidly isolated people by implementing quarantine measures. Their COVID playbook was unofficially translated right after, and it will be extremely helpful worldwide. Many countries want to follow up with restrictive and severe surveillance systems, including tracing people via their mobile phones, their social networks. Monitoring this way is a handful resource to predict if an individual has been in contact with others who tested positive and to know who they might have infected.

The popularity of social networks has created a giant source of data. Users’ interaction creates information, and information is a massive tool to use as a surveillance system. Empirical data studies allow governments to know users’ anxieties about the COVID-19 pandemic state.

Surveillance systems like these pose an ethical issue and trigger an alert on most people’s minds, as they never thought of being tracked by their mobile device, or even their words on a Facebook post. Truth is, most of us don’t care about being tracked on our daily lives, as we accept the terms without even reading them. But when it comes to a pandemic, ethics come into play without a proper and clear definition, or we thought so. Ethical guidelines such as the General Data Protection Regulation have never been so important in a situation like this. Security and usage of our private data are probably the two biggest concerns. Many people ask the same questions. Will our privacy be exposed to help our society to control the pandemic? If it ever gets exposed, will I be judged for my political, religious or scientific views? There is also a great initiative by IEEE’s on this matter — Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems.

But is it the only solution?

Forming a Public Opinion

The “nothing to hide” argument fails to capture the scope of legitimate privacy concerns.

Sam Harris tweeted something like this in 2013. We should be concerned about our health while our privacy is maintained, and I believe many of the empirical data collected from the surveillance systems should be mainly used to give citizens the right knowledge and spread vast and scientifically correct information. South Korea relied on honest news and their citizens’ cooperation, while tracking them for the correct information, instead of misusing their private data. Sam Harris also wrote that there is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonablewhile explaining the dogmatic problems on many fascism and communist regimes. This tells us that if we do not give personality to the extremely controlled surveillance system, we’ll do the right thing without public authorities in over our heads.

Cyber Threats & The Post Outbreak

Internet dependency is a reality for us with the social distancing imposition. With such an increase in online communications, people witnessed multiple cyber attacks as this dependency exposes a lot of people to malicious attempts. Companies CEO’s will suffer phishing attempts, major blogging networks are targeted as potential malware spreaders, and data leaks are also a reality in many testing labs.

Attacks like these can disrupt entire organizations and hold back the people’s trust in their governments. This brings us back to the disquiet of our private data management. It connects to ongoing ethical concerns about the safety of our data while it is analyzed in order to fight against this crisis.

It also leads us to a harsh and unknown future. Are people willing to trust science and correct information in order to keep their privacy whilst cooperating with the world? Questions and decisions like these ones might change our world for the future years. Such disciplines have a hard task on hand to deal with these situations, and their work on helping the formation of public opinion is crucial.

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