New Tech or Threat? The Banes Posed by Advanced Technology

By William Cho [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By William Cho [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The recently concluded Mobile World Congress 2014 offered a good glimpse of how much technology has progressed, at least in terms of mobile technology and consumer electronics. However, it also served as a reminder of how new tech can be dangerous, harmful, or less than advantageous to people.

Enumerated and discussed below are some of the dangers of technological advancement, as depicted in recent reports.

3D Printing Can Produce Undetectable Guns

The idea of 3D printing is indeed fascinating and can truly be useful. It affords the convenience of producing almost anything anywhere the 3D printer is brought. This includes the possibility of creating a gun—being able to produce a lethal weapon without having to worry about inspections. Police officials wouldn’t quiz you on how you plan to use your 3D printer. Nobody will ever suspect what you are up to with your 3D printing machine.

Someone from a nonprofit organization called Defense Distributed, Cody Wilson, uploaded a blueprint for producing a plastic gun online. It didn’t take a long time before the US government requested for the blueprint to be taken down. The reason for the takedown request is obvious. Having such an easy to access blueprint allows anyone to have a gun and elude inspection or regulation. Bear in mind that 3D printers are not only capable of using plastic or resin as a material. There are 3D printers that can create things with metal.

Well, even plastic guns already pose serious threats. To prove that the threat indeed exists, Israel’s Channel 10 used the blueprint uploaded by Wilson to create a plastic gun. The gun worked as intended. Additionally, the gun made it through strict inspections without being detected or raising a red flag. The plastic gun was even brought to a room where Israel’s Prime Minister was speaking.

A 3D printer costs as low as $1,000, making it very accessible to a lot of potential users. Producing a plastic gun, on the other hand, only takes around 10 to 18 hours according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives.

By Slowking4 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Slowking4 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Computer-Generated Fake “Academic” Papers

Credibility-challenged academic papers are flooding academia and they are written by computer programs. Just recently, the international weekly journal of science Nature, reported how publishers had to withdraw over 120 gibberish academic papers. This was after a French researcher, Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, discovered that they were computer-generated gobbledygook.

Labbé spent more than two years cataloguing computer-generated papers that have made it to over 30 published conference proceedings. Accordingly, 16 of these papers have been published by Germany-based Springer while over a hundred were published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

What makes this problem worse is that the program responsible for most of the spotted fake papers was created by mere students. It was not the result of a program that have undergone intense development and inputs from specialists in artificial intelligence. Imagine how bad things could have gone in the field of scientific research if these fake papers were produced using sophisticated artificial intelligence technologies.

By Planemad (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Planemad (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Unmonitored Tech Use

A poll made by BBC Learning revealed that many parents are unaware of the dangers their children encounter on their web-enabled mobile devices. This was undertaken as part of Safer Internet Day.

In the said poll, 90% of the surveyed parents claimed to have talked about online safety with their children but most of them said that they did not really supervise their children’s Internet access, through their smartphones or tablet computers.

A senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, David Emm, said that parents are usually not well acquainted with the kind of risks young users of the Internet face as they go online with whatever device they use. He asserts that there is a misconception that smartphones and tablets don’t need a level of protection similar to what is needed with a PC. Emm believes that this kind of thinking has to change.

The BBC poll found that only 40% of parents set up filters or other parental or security controls on their children’s smartphones. On the other hand, only 50% claimed to have set up such filters on their tablets before allowing their children to use them.

By Jeremy Keith (Flickr: Device arrangement) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jeremy Keith (Flickr: Device arrangement) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

All these emphasize the need for more caution in handling technology. Most technologies are not something to be feared. It is the way people use it that can make it damaging. 3D printing as well as the latest smartphones and mobile computers yield myriad benefits. It’s the abuse and ill-intentioned use that need to be addressed strategically.