Technology has become central to our lives: we work, socialise and play using our phones, computers and tablets. It has, as a result, become that much more important for said technology to run safely, smoothly and reliably. But does it?
At the time of writing, the BBC technology section features no less than three independent stories involving buggy or vulnerable tech. From harmless graphical bugs in recently released AAA game Assassin’s Creed: Unity, all the way through to sincerely worrying revelations about a nineteen-year-old bug in Microsoft software, the consensus seems to be that a lot of our technology is going wrong a lot of the time. Recall also the Heartbleed and Shellshock bugs that were revealed earlier in the year – both considered extreme security risks within the IT industry – and you’d be forgiven for wondering how such oversights can occur in an age when technology is second nature to most of us.
It’s not all bad, however. No news is good news, and more often than not software only makes the headlines when it goes wrong: much of it is ticking away perfectly behind our screens and servers. It’s also easier than ever to roll out updates to tweak and improve software, with most devices being connected to the Internet all of the time. Can we fix it? Yes we can.
Could such an environment be encouraging shoddy programming, however? If bugs can be fixed easily with patch after patch, why not release a product as early as possible to generate revenue, even if it might not be 100% ready for sale? This is an issue the gaming industry is familiar with, and how far it extends into the general IT market is difficult to say. With the important – arguably vital – role technology plays in our daily lives, such an attitude is the antithesis of the philosophy we should be adopting.
Technology is a constantly evolving entity; its mutability is its single greatest success. Updates and patches are part and parcel of that ever-changing landscape, but too often technology providers are caught playing catch up, patching holes in a leaking ship rather than building a sturdier one to start with. Adoption of new technologies has time and again been hindered by vague yet menacing ‘security concerns': BYoD, the Internet of Things and drones are just some of the many concepts delayed by potential security worries.
Many of those security concerns are driven by the reactionary nature of the software and technology sphere. If we wish to see an era in which technological innovation becomes fluid and seamless, we will need to see our outlook become preventative, rather than curative.
Image courtesy of Michael Himbeault https://www.flickr.com/photos/riebart/