Computers and Society

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Are there disadvantages to the growing dependence of humans on computers?

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There are disadvantages to the increasing reliance on computers.  While computers have proven an enormous benefit to mankind in many areas, including the design of safer equipment and forms of transportation, the performance of complex calculations, the cost savings associated with computer modeling relative to constructing prototypes, and much more, there is a downside to the extent of the dependence on computers that has developed over the past 30 years.  Much of that disadvantage resides in the enormous increase in the average person’s vulnerability to identity theft and to financial crimes.  The massive increase in the number of online financial transactions that has occurred, involving consumer purchases and banking activities, has resulted in an astronomical number of opportunities for criminals to conduct financial crimes from the anonymity of their homes.  According to one estimate, there more over 12 million cases of identity theft during 2012 alone, at a cost to the victims of over $21 billion. [“One New Identity Theft Victim Every 3 Seconds in 2012,”]

In addition to the tremendous increase in identity thefts and financial crimes that have resulted from reliance on computers, vulnerability to viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and other forms of computer intrusions and attacks have added a complicating and frustrating component to day-to-day activities that were unknown before the advent of the personal computer.

Finally, there have been suggestions that overreliance on computers has diminished society by reducing personal interactions.  While there is no doubt that some individuals have substituted computers for personal relationships, it is questionable whether this issue rises to the level of a major disadvantage. 

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