There’s a plot in an American TV series that an innocent man was inserted a microcontroller in his eyeball, through which the villains could give him order. If he refused to obey, the microcontroller would explode and kill him immediately.
Though being dramatically exaggerated, it still gets me nervous concerning the undeniable reality in a ubiquitous computing technology era, that the will of individuals and the will of code designers are unlikely to be distinguished, therefore, beneath the mask of friendly designed services, it could be exploiting people of their free will and diversified choice of lifestyles.
As the computing technology gets tangible in every aspect of people’s daily life, bringing enjoyable users’ experience and the most convenient access to the service, people are likely to be willing to give it a try and therefore get cultivated to take the device as an essential part of their life. Take Dianping as an example, an app in China that advises users with nearby restaurants and entertainments based on the earlier reviews and rates. I thought it reliable and used it often before I knew that a great amount of shop owners would hire people to rate five stars and write positive reviews just to attract more consumers. Commercial service would always be based on the fact that it is profitable, meaning the benefiting party are more likely to be the servers rather than users, while they will probably never find it out.
While the computing technology are getting ubiquitous in our life, the increasingly invisibility of media is exemplified by their disappearing from consciousness when used intensely. (Mark Deuze, Media Life, SAGE) No longer separated with a flat screen, marking the boundary of virtual and realistic world, we can hold it in hand without knowing there’s a complicated computing technology behind. The invisibility makes it irresistible, and gives chance to the power holders to educate people the way they want.
Thinking about the foregoing and unwritten potential harms that the ubiquitous computing technology would bring about, I think I’d have a second thought before I plunge into the wave, only if I had a choice.