Tech is great. Tech is fascinating. But in the wrong hands, even the most human-friendly advancements can suddenly look all kinds of dangerous.
An interactive doll, Hello Barbie, has voice recognition software that allows your child to talk to Barbie, and for Barbie to talk back. According to maker Mattel in a Washington Post article, "Hello Barbie will offer children a highly engaging play experience, in part because the doll will learn about its users over time."
Hello Barbie: The cons
But then there's that whole potential-privacy-violation thing.
As Angela Campbell, faculty adviser at Georgetown University's Center on Privacy and Technology, told the Post, "If I had a young child, I would be very concerned that my child's intimate conversations with her doll were being recorded and analyzed." Jezebel in its reporting of the new toy called it "creepy as hell."
Cloud storage devices: The pros
As CNET has pointed out, the cloud pretty much solves any storage space problems you may have with your phone or computer. Then again...
Talk about precision: The TrackingPoint rifle and the Inteliscope Tactical Rifle Adapter are using lasers, wifi and other technologies to turn anybody into a deadly sniper. As an overview video brags, "[It's] the world's first precision-guided firearm -- the revolutionary new long-range shooting system that puts jet-fighter lock-and-launch technology in a rifle, enabling anyone to hit moving targets at extended ranges."
Meanwhile, the Inteliscope Tactical Rifle Adapter lets users attach smart phones to the gun, and then uses an app to help the shooter to improve. Sounds great, if you like venison but have terrible aim. Then again ...
Additionally, as Wedbush Securities analyst Rommel Dionisio told CNN Money, "There are a handful of snipers who can hit a target at 1,000 yards. But now, anybody can do it. You can put some tremendous capability in the hands of just about anybody, even an untrained shooter."
Self-driving cars: The pros
Other than the obvious benefits of being able to say, play Angry Birds on your phone while driving, proponents of driverless cars argue that it will be much safer, taking the human error quotient into consideration.
A 2014 study done by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University notes that "you still might have accidents on the margin in rare situations, [but] you're basically looking at anywhere from a 95 to 99.99 percent reduction in total fatalities and injuries on the road."
Self-driving cars: The cons
Then again, not everybody is comfortable with putting autonomous cars on the roads just yet. Consumer advocate John Simpson told Tech Times that potential abuses abound, from "safety issues" to "issues surrounding the data they gather, and the privacy of the data they gather."
Inclement weather, hand signals of traffic officers, and left-hand turns into oncoming traffic -- self-driving cars just can't deal with those nuances yet. Additionally, the data gathered by such cars is not necessarily limited to their navigation, leading to concerns about individuals' privacy.
Wireless pacemakers: The pros
Pacemakers save lives. And wireless pacemakers are said to be the lifesavers of the future; they use focused acoustic waves that are picked up by a permanently implanted receiver, converting the energy into electricity. Then again ...
Wireless pacemakers: The cons
... TV shows such as "Homeland" and "Elementary"have suggested that pacemakers can be hacked, and they're right. In 2008 a team of researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the University of Washington, Harvard Medical School and the University of Massachusetts Amherst proved that a combination pacemaker and defibrillator with wireless capabilities could be be vulnerable to such attacks.
... hacking, theft, packages falling from the sky, airspace restrictions: All of these are dangers. And as Forbes wrote in commentary about Amazon's drone plans: "If the FAA approves such a massively-scaled commercial delivery network -- a big if -- it would require extensive safety measures ... system failure, pilot error and malicious or intentional efforts to bring down drones will mean some potential serious dangers to the public."
Smart TVs: The pros
Sensors that allow you to control a TV with hand motions. Interactive interfaces. Tons of apps. What's there not to like about smart TVs? Hey, glad you asked ...
Smart TVs: The cons
There are definite privacy risks that come along with your seamless Netflix integration.
Electronics maker LG has admitted to gathering info on customer viewing habits ... and selling that data to advertisers. Meanwhile, Samsung has gone so far as to record and share viewer conversations.
Smart mapping apps: The pros
Sure, it helps you to get where you're going, but GPS also has other uses. As Fox News reported, using GPS tracking, police were able to track victim Laci Peterson's husband Scott's whereabouts when he was a suspect in her murder.
Smart mapping apps: The cons
Of course when GPS has faulty information, the consequences can be less than pleasant.
CNET reported on the murder of a woman who was misdirected by the Waze App down the wrong street. Maps apps also are extremely vulnerable to manipulation, as security consultant Don Bailey proved when he hacked into personal GPS system Zoombak. He subsequently tracked movements of the device; found other devices in his vicinity; and impersonated the system.