Blogging on Issues of International and European Security

Age of Information or Age of Noise?

Steve Wozniak at Tedx Brussels on 12 November 2012. Source: lesoir.be.

by Evita Mouawad

The link between security and online technology cannot be underestimated.  Many of us tend to forget that the Internet was in fact a military invention created in the United States in the 1960s as a government weapon for the Cold War. Before the Internet was made available to the public, the military as well as scientists and researchers, used it to communicate and share sensitive data with each another. Today, the Internet has become a global phenomenon transcending national borders, widely used in all sectors of life and facilitating the flow of information more than ever before.

The current age of information, technology and social media was at the centre of Monday’s TEDx Brussels event that welcomed speakers from diverse backgrounds including entrepreneurs, innovators, doctors and scientists. Among the participants was famous Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and inventor/hacker Mitch Altman, co-founder of former American electronics company 3ware, and founder of the San Francisco hackerspace Noisebridge.

Wozniak highlighted the advantages of technology and innovation, which make life easier and ultimately “make people happier”. He stressed on the importance of technology being open to everyone in order to encourage a ‘do it yourself’ approach to innovation.  He emphasized on the importance of making technology more human saying: “maybe one day technology will dominate us, but for now humans are dominating technology, which is why we should aim at humanizing technology to better serve humans.” Altman also embraced the advantages of technology open to everyone, particularly on a community level. He encouraged the creation of hackerspaces where communities can meet and brainstorm for new innovations and share them with the world.

Others such as Alexander Asseily, founder and Chairman of London-based startup STATE, and Andrew Keene, British born entrepreneur and author, were less optimistic about the recent technology and social media explosion. Asseily argued that it is not enough to live in an age of information where we cannot filter the information we are exposed to.  Since we are still largely unable to distinguish valuable and truthful information from useless or false information, Asseily argued that we must evolve from the current age of noise to a new age of wisdom and self-awareness.  Keene was even more critical of recent technology and social media developments and accused them of “transforming the old world of privacy into one of ‘publicness’.” He also argued that there is no more room for people who think against the crowd, no more mystery nor personal space for thinkers and innovators who simply need some time alone to think.

Despite the obvious differences of opinion regarding today’s technology boom, everyone seemed to agree that innovations were indeed making our lives easier. However, many also stressed on the importance of reviewing the ways in which we are using these tools, in both our private and public lives, in order to make sure that we remain the masters of technology, and not the other way around.

 Click here for more information on Tedx Brussels.

One comment on “Age of Information or Age of Noise?

  1. hindhobeika
    22/11/2012

    I love the post! I think that this recent chaotic technology explosion is a just phase we NEED to go through in order to get to a more structured and clever interpretation of our data. Think of google. There was the web with all this info and no clear way of accessing it, then they created a clever search engine with the mission of organizing the world’s information. Same thing for our tech-info today: we are in the phase of discovering all these tools that helps generate the data (Social media, sensors, quantified self, etc.), without really understanding where it is going, but with the faith that by trying more we’ll learn more and analyze better.

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