There is a lot that can be said in regards to the impact that computers have had on the world. I won’t claim to be a world safety expert, but I am aware of several aspects of safety that computers have both improved and been a detriment to. Computers have made a number of things more safe: medical treatments are often managed by computers, computers house databases of information pertaining to criminals that facilitate their capture, and computers also provide life saving information in the event of injury or illness.
Ever had an X-ray? More likely than not, that X-ray machine was controlled by a computer. The technician that walked you through getting the x-ray asked the computer to take an x-ray, and it ran numerous checks milliseconds before exposing your body to x-rays and capturing an image. That image was processed and displayed to the technician in real time. No more waiting for the film to be developed.
I’m sure you have seen in a TV show or movie the infamous “scanning for match” scene where the detective is trying to catch the bad guy. In the past, doing this meant looking by hand through possibly thousands of fingerprint records. With computers, it can take significantly less time. Computers also allow for access other police and government databases of fingerprints. Did the bad guy get fingerprinted in another state but not locally? This way near impossible without computers.
You’re sitting at your desk and you start to have chest pains. You ate some chili for lunch, so you just shrug it off as heartburn. The little computer you’re wearing on your wrist detects an irregular heartbeat and warns your of such. Maybe this isn’t just heartburn, maybe you’re actually having a heart attack. You opt for the safe route and call 911. Once they arrive they confirm it, you’re having a heart attack. That tiny computer may have just saved your life.
Computers have also caused numerous safety issues. To name a few: increased ease of identity theft, air plane crashes, and fraud.
You got a credit card offer in your inbox. You decide you’ll take a look at it and click the link. The offer looks fantastic. The site appears legit, so you fill out all the information and eagerly await the company’s decision. What you don’t realize until it’s too late is that the site wasn’t legit, and you’ve given a scammer everything they need to steal your identity and run up bills in your name. Often, the scammers don’t even have to do a lot of work, as it’s all automated on their end.
Incase you haven’t heard recently, Boeing has been having computer issues with their planes. The 737Max had a new computer system installed that caused planes to quite literally drop out of the sky. While there were other human factors in play that could have avoided the plane crashes, they were ill-equipped to do so, so the fault lies in Boeing’s computer systems.
In corners of the internet referred to as the “Dark Web” there exist websites where many illegal activities take place. One such activity is the sale of valid credit-card numbers. The credit card numbers can be used for anything any other credit card number can be used for. The key difference is that the person using the number isn’t tied to it in any way and thus can’t be charged for it’s use. It’s essentially free, illegal money.