Educate the public about the pros and cons of technology

Editor, REFERENCE IS made to Alline Akintore’s article, “A case for Wireless Sensor Networks” (The New Times, February 19).
A wireless sensor network monitors microclimate in a forest. It records data such as soil and leaf moisture and air temperature. Net photo.
A wireless sensor network monitors microclimate in a forest. It records data such as soil and leaf moisture and air temperature. Net photo.

Editor,

REFERENCE IS made to Alline Akintore’s article, “A case for Wireless Sensor Networks” (The New Times, February 19).

For me this is just one side of the story. It would be worth exploring the other side as well, which is most often overlooked in case of new technology.

In our human limitation to comprehend situations at once in their multi-folds, we tend to jubilate at immediate manifestations, real but also imagined, especially when facing novelty. 

Only later, hopefully before eventual catastrophes, we scramble around for patchwork solutions to potential and unforeseen threats and risks beforehand unaccounted for.

Hitting in Google Scholar with the following terms: electromagnetic waves ill health, 386 hits pop up. So, there seems to be plenty of complementary considerations that should have been mentioned in this “case” advocacy. This is, indeed, a “normal” opinion of any layperson.

But under this mantle of public opinion setter, I would expect to find there a more balanced and factually evidenced point of view. Particularly not sided with nor calling for only the findings of those academics either insufficiently learned, or biased, or just corrupt.

No technology is entirely a panacea, nor entirely a curse. In everything there are always both positive and negative aspects to put in balance.

Nowadays, the world over, more and more deprived of ancient and century proven solutions evolved in our respective traditions, we badly lack experts in the field of weighing technologies on scales other than novelty and mere return on monetary investments.

We need a new crop of wise people to instruct us on the expected advantages of technology, as well as on potential disadvantages of any artefact prior to its introduction at the market place.

François-Xavier Nziyonsenga, Rwanda

**********************

ALLOW ME to counter these claims: I am indeed a layperson in this field, albeit one who dedicated some good time to the study of WSN protocols as part of my engineering education.

That said, wireless devices on the market undergo safety testing for SAR to ensure humans stay safe when operating them (such as phones). In addition to that, WSN use standards such as Zigbee (IEEE 802.15) that operate at a fraction of the transmission power used by handheld phones, and WSN devices are rarely used within 30cm of the human body (which is the range for “worry” over Electromagnetic waves v-a-v SAR).

Alline Akintore

 

Have Your SayLeave a comment