Today’s topic was on Technology and ICT, which I felt was a topic that is extremely relevant in our lives and that piqued my interest. This is one of the main reasons why I chose to do my individual oral presentation on this topic, on Transliteracy.
We began the lesson with a video on the Virtual boy, Milo. The video shed some light on the changes in ICT the next couple of years, as mentioned in the Global Information Technology Report, about how face, speech and even emotion recognition would infiltrate into our lives through the hands of technology. It is however both intriguing and scary how Milo is able to interact with Claire through the television screen, and it depicts how computers are becoming sentient. The first thing that came to my mind was the movie ‘Inception’, about how Dom Cobb’s wife eventually could not differentiate reality from her dreams. Won’t it be scary if people choose to live in their virtual worlds, and not step out of the house anymore? It will definitely disrupt the natural way of life and pose many problems should ‘virtuality’ become ‘reality’.
We also watched another video on the shift from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, which is essentially a semantic web where wireless infrastructure is easily available and search engines are able to troll the Internet more easily. One example is cloud computing, which seems like a really foreign term but it in fact has been existing in our lives since several years back. Google docs, emails and Facebook are all examples of cloud computing. In addition, the Million Penguin Wikinovel, which also uses the concept of cloud computing, depicts how traditional print media has transformed over the years to digital media.
Zhi Shu’s presentation on the impact of technology on the rural poor highlights the ways ICT can help the poor improve communication and enhance their development, especially in the areas of poverty, health and education. As mentioned in Reading 2, ICTs can help accelerate their economic and social development and eventually minimize the digital divide, along with the urban-rural divide. Thus in response to the question he posed to the class, “Is there a future for the rural poor in advanced ICT”, I feel that the government plays a key role in bringing ICT to the rural poor and in alleviating poverty. One such example is the one laptop per child policy (OLPC), which is to empower children in developing countries by providing a laptop to each school going child. Such initiatives have secondary and tertiary positive impacts on the personal, social and economical aspects and helps reduce poverty by creating opportunities for the people living in rural areas.
This brings me to the debate we held in class regarding whether assess to the Internet should be a human right. The Internet is essentially a tool to finding information and gathering knowledge, and it is an extremely powerful platform for interactive communication. In today’s increasingly borderless world and paradigm shift towards the knowledge economy, it is important that every human should have equal rights towards the Internet and assess to knowledge as it is to drinkable water and food. Technology enhances opportunity creation in many different aspects (social, economic, political) and it is the solution to alleviating poverty in many developing countries. Thus, I fully agree with Prof Shahi’s quote, that
ICT is the catalyst that facilitates the Knowledge Revolution
However on the flip side, the rapid advancements of ICT also brings about some dangers that we should be wary of, such as security concerns and identity theft. It is far easier to hack into someone’s email account these days, and with the increased number of global networks across the Internet, this poses a huge danger when it involves businesses and large firms with many stakeholders involved.
With the multitude of social media platforms these days (podcasts, digital video, virtual worlds, microblogs, wikis, social networking, etc), it is important that we involve everyone in the Digital Age, so as to create a more level playing field for both the developing and developed countries. What is important now, is how are we going to capture the full potential of ICT and distribute it evenly throughout the world. As with the urban-rural divide, we should use the Internet as a tool to narrow the digital divide, instead of further driving a wedge between the haves and have-nots.
I would rate this lesson an 8.5/10, as ICT is by far one of the most interesting and relevant topics in this course.