These days it’s trendy to talk about technology as if it were purely a bad thing. After all, we’ve got companies violating our privacy and harvesting our data without being transparent about what they’re doing; tools like personal assistants recording us without our knowledge; and regular breaches that put our personal information at risk. But is it really all bad? The same tools we’re concerned about can also make our lives better—from connecting doctors more quickly than ever to patient data to digital bus routes that make transport more efficient. The upshot? Technology on its own isn’t a good or a bad thing; it’s how it’s used that matters.

Pros and Cons: Collecting Data

A few weeks ago we wrote about Big Tech amassing huge amounts of healthcare data to create a unified platform for healthcare providers to search patients records. On the one hand, it would provide healthcare providers with comprehensive patient records, leading to more personalized healthcare and better health outcomes. On the other hand, there’s the concern that Big Tech could use the data without people’s knowledge or permission.

These kinds of discussions go beyond healthcare technologies. Take AI, which has become a normal part of our lives—impacting our social media feeds, influencing our daily commute to work with traffic suggestions, and monitoring our banking transactions for fraudulent transactions. People are worried about the kind of data AI demands and the ways that their data could be used (for example, facial recognition that could mean we’re under surveillance nearly all the time). But AI could also significantly improve life for many—from helping people with disabilities communicate, to improving food production and wildlife monitoring.

So, do the potentially good outcomes of these technologies outweigh the bad?

It’s the Way It’s Used that Matters

Technology isn’t inherently good or bad, it’s the culture we build around it and the way we use it. Case in point: VPNs, which can protect your privacy or—depending on the VPN—could be harvesting your data. With the right regulations, technologies built around amassing data could be used to significantly improve lives. However, it is a question of whether there’s a push for these regulations that holds groups who violate these regulations—and people’s privacy—accountable.

There is also technology that is built through privacy by design—keeping privacy in mind throughout the entire engineering process. These technologies are built for privacy, and Vaporstream is one of those. When you use Vaporstream you can communicate without having to worry that your communications could be intercepted, screenshotted, forwarded, or shared. That’s why organizations working to improve people’s lives like Safe House Project use it to protect their communications. Find out how we protect your privacy.