While few would refute that technology makes our lives easier, new global research from Lenovo has found that a large proportion of those surveyed feel that technology has the power to make us more understanding, tolerant, charitable and open-minded.
The survey polled more than 15,000 people from the US, Mexico, Brazil, China, India, Japan, UK, Germany, France and Italy and revealed that nine out of ten respondents (89 percent) think technology plays a large role in their day-to-day lives.
Although we might presume the main ways in which technology impacts our lives is through daily tasks – such as emails, streaming and so on – Lenovo’s research has found that in many cases, technology is actually having a strong impact on our human values.
For example, 38 percent of global respondents believe smart devices such as PCs, tablets, smartphones and VR are making people more open-minded and tolerant. Meanwhile, over a third (35 percent) believe technology is making us more understanding and empathetic.
It is likely that the rise of social media and video sharing platforms are key to this, allowing people to connect with those from other countries and cultures, gaining an insight into their lives through social posts, video and other content. Technology provides us with a window into other people’s lives and 70 percent of respondents believe it is also making us more ‘curious’.
The study also found that a third (32 percent) of people are of the opinion that technology makes us more charitable. This is likely the result of the increased prevalence of charitable fundraising platforms, which allow people to make donations online, as well as enabling people to share charitable endeavors via their social profiles.
Respondents to the survey also believe emerging technologies could have an even more significant impact on our values in the future. Indeed, two-thirds (66 percent) say that VR has the potential to cultivate empathy and understanding, and help people be more emotionally connected with others across the globe by allowing them to see the world through their eyes.
One respondent in the study remarked: “VR would give those who think the world is perfect an insight into other people’s world and make them realize the pain and suffering some people have to endure in their daily lives.”
There are, of course, two sides to every coin, and some respondents do feel that technology can instead divide people. For example, 60 percent of respondents in the survey agreed that tech makes people more judgmental of others, especially through the lens of social media.
The ‘immediate’ nature of the internet also has some side-effects. For example, 43 percent of respondents believe that technology is making us less ‘patient’, while 59 percent said it can make us ‘lazy’ and 49 percent said that it can make us ‘selfish’.
From Lenovo’s global outlook, as technologies are being developed for widespread adoption, they have the opportunity to actively promote qualities like empathy and tolerance, in ways that can be used for good.
Psychologist, Jocelyn Brewer, says: “Technology is often blamed for eroding empathy, the innate ability most humans are born with to identify and understand each other’s emotions and experiences. However, when we harness technological advances for positive purposes, it can help promote richer experiences that develop empathetic concern and leverage people into action on causes that matter to them.
“Developing the ability to imagine and connect with the experiences and perspectives of a broad range of diverse people can help build mental wealth and foster deeper, more meaningful relationships. Technology can be used to supplement our connections, not necessarily serve as the basis of them.”
Dilip Bhatia, Vice President of User and Customer Experience, Lenovo, says: “In many ways society is becoming more polarized as many of us are surrounded by those who share similar views and opinions. This can reinforce both rightly and wrongly held views and lead to living in somewhat of an echo chamber. We believe smarter technology has the power to intelligently transform people’s world view, putting them in the shoes of others and allowing them to experience life through their eyes – leading to a greater understanding of the world and the human experience.”
“This could be through using smart technology to connect people from diverse backgrounds or allowing you to literally see their world in VR. The more open we are to diversity in the world around us, the more empathetic we can be as human beings – and that is a good thing.”
TikTok takes on COVID-19
The fastest growing social media platform in the world has also become an epicenter of public education about the coronavirus, attracting more than 30-billion views, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK
The young have been getting a bad rap for wanting to party on while COVID-19 sends the world into lockdown. But a different movie is playing itself out on the social platform that is growing fastest among teenagers: TikTok.
Awareness campaigns by TikTok itself, collaboration with the International Red Cross, and spontaneous videos made by TikTok creators have combined into a barrage of information, education, awareness and social consciousness around the coronavirus.
Both globally and in South Africa, TikTok’s COVID-19 campaigns have gone viral.
The local #HayiCorona challenge, designed to remind people not to touch their face and wash hands regularly, has passed 1.5-million views. The TikTok collaboration with the International Red Cross, the #WashingHands challenge, has passed 12.6-million views.
One of the best-known participants in these challenges is the past year’s icon of South African talent, the Ndlovu Youth Choir, took up the global challenge with a 20-second hand-washing video. It put together a performance that brings tremendous energy to what can be a clichéd message, and ends with a punt for the Department of Health’s WhatsApp information service. The video can be viewed below.
“On a global scale, TikTok also partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that, while creators are still having fun and expressing themselves on the platform, they stay informed with COVID-19 information coming from a reliable source,” a TikTok spokesperson told us. “Through the partnership, the WHO has created an informational page on TikTok that offers information to curb the spread of the coronavirus as well as dispelling myths.”
The page can be viewed at https://vm.tiktok.com/GHTEGf
TikTok has hosted a number of livestreams with WHO experts, attracting users from more than 70 countries, tuning in for live question and answer sessions. It has also introduced labels on coronavirus-related videos, to point users to trusted information. Resources are also offered directly in the app and in a dedicated COVID-19 section of TikTok’s Safety Center, at https://www.tiktok.com/safety/resources/covid-19.
If users simply want to explore videos on the topic, they can search via the #coronavirus hashtag, or click on https://vm.tiktok.com/swKbn4. The hashtag has had an astonishing 33.8-billion views, indicating the scale of activity and interest around the topic on the platform.
Read more on the next page about how South Africans have embraced the campaign.
On World Backup Day: backup, backup, backup
It was World Backup Day yesterday, 31 March, at a time when business continuity is threatened as never before. That makes calls for protecting email and defending against ransomware all the more urgent.
The global coronavirus pandemic has brought into stark relief many organisations’ lack of business continuity plans and policies. With more than two billion people around the globe in forced lockdown in wide-ranging government efforts to stem the tide of infections, an unprecedented number of employees are working remotely.
This interruption to the normal way of work is precisely what an effective and resilient business continuity strategy should plan for, says Heino Gevers, cybersecurity specialist at Mimecast.
“Companies need uninterrupted access to critical business applications during times of disruption, including safe and secure web and email access for workers that are now operating outside the normal perimeters of the organisation,” he says. “In addition, comprehensive backup and archiving solutions should be ready to restore access to critical business applications should there be any unplanned downtime to ensure continuity until the crisis passes.”
According to Gevers, the current global crisis is likely to push business continuity up the list of priorities for many organisations that have been disrupted by the effects of the coronavirus.
“Organisations are facing new challenges to their productivity; for example in terms of technical support. If a remote user is infected with malware or ransomware, how does the IT team restore that device or do any remediation without being able to physically access it?”
Gevers advises that organisations implement tools that enhances the data protection capabilities of commonly-used tools such as Office365 and can leverage archived data to provide quick recovery of email data in the event of accidental loss, malicious attacks or technical failure.
“As adoption of cloud-based business applications grow in the wake of forced lockdowns around the globe, companies need to ensure they have the tools to recover in any situation,” he says. “This includes a data management strategy that combines archiving, backup and data protection capabilities to allow for quick restoration of critical systems and applications in the event of disruption.”
Jasmit Sagoo, head of technology at Veritas for the United Kingdom and Ireland, warns that this is a golden age for cybercriminals looking for ransomware opportunities.
“As the global cost of ransomware continues to grow, this World Backup Day,
Veritas is saying: ‘don’t pay up, back up!’,” he says. “Ransomware is
said to generate an estimated annual revenue of $1 billion a year, and
companies who are not consistent in backing up their data are allowing
criminals to line their pockets.
“Ransomware attacks exist only because some businesses can’t survive unless the hackers give them back their data. So, the key to survival is removing that reliance and being able to regain access to data, without engaging with the cybercriminals. The best way to do that is with a sound backup strategy.
“Sagoo advises organisations to create isolated, offline backup copies of their data to keep it out of reach of any attackers. They then need to proactively monitor and restrict backup credentials, while running backups frequently to shrink the risk of potential data loss. Businesses should also test and retest their ransomware defences regularly.
“Ransomware strikes without warning and it doesn’t discriminate between its targets – it can happen to any organisation, large or small. Despite their best efforts, most companies will fall to at least one attack. What distinguishes one victim from another is the ability to bounce back, which ultimately depends on its backup strategy.
“When ransomware hits, organisations that aren’t prepared often feel helpless to do anything other than to submit to their attacker’s demands. That’s why we’re urging all businesses to use World Backup Day as a catalyst to get ahead of the situation and get their data protected.”