Technology will be abused

Recently the developer of weapons-grade pepper spray, Kamran Loghman, gave an interview where he criticized the UC Davis police using “his” product on peaceful protesters. The interview describes him as shocked and bewildered at this obvious overuse of force.

So I can understand his shock at the overuse of force but I have a hard time seeing that he could not have seen his weapon being abused in this way. It is not hard to see that developers of technology prefer to see their implementation in well meaning situations and used by balanced and fair individuals. But the reality that every technology developer must have is that all technology can, and will, be abused.

By attempting to adopt social control on technologies the developer is being naive. Logham is a well intentioned inventor and has even developed policies for the use of pepper spray by police. But as everyone should know by now – the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

But do we learn? Hardly!

The BBC has an interesting article about how a laser gun is going to be tested by the police as a future weapon against rioters. The laser gun temporarily blinds it’s victims and has great advantages over tear gas and pepper spray as the user does not have to be close to the rioters, it has an effective range of 500m.

The enthusiastic managing director Paul Kerr is quoted as saying “If you can’t look at something you can’t attack it”. The technician inside us sees everything as a fascinating technical solution that needs to be solved, the businessman within looks for opportunities for profit. Both manage to compartmentalize away any social responsibility in order to develop and sell weapons intended to be used against unarmed citizens. How nice.

So how long will it take before this is used in innovative new ways against those who do not deserve it?

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