“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” These words of Albert Einstein ring true as we witness the incredible growth of technology and its profound impact on humanity. Technology has reshaped the world, making once-impossible tasks accessible and revolutionising various fields. Throughout history, scientists, inventors, and researchers have faced persecution for their discoveries, only to be vindicated later. Galileo Galilei’s experience with heliocentrism serves as a poignant example, where he faced condemnation and death, only to be proven right after his demise. Science, technology, and innovation have undoubtedly made powerful contributions to human development.
However, amidst its remarkable contributions, technology has also become a weapon of mass destruction in the hands of some. It can be harnessed for both positive and negative purposes, depending on the intentions of its users. Across the globe, individuals, organizations, and nations have utilised technology for industrial revolutions and, regrettably, for the destruction of our delicate world ecosystem. When technology is used to disrupt the world ecosystem negatively, policymakers face the moral dilemma of how to respond. Should they remain passive witnesses or take concrete steps to address the challenges?
A recent documentary by Cable Network News (CNN) titled ‘Digital Kidnapping’ sheds light on a disturbing trend. Digital kidnapping involves stealing a minor’s photos or posing as them or their parents to exploit them. This form of cyberbullying invades the child’s privacy and can lead to difficulties in gaining college acceptance or subjecting them to bullying. The use of social media as a tool for bullying and the destruction of young lives is gaining alarming momentum worldwide. It is a terrifying reminder of Einstein’s assertion that “our technology has exceeded our humanity.” As technology erodes humanity, the need for ethics and regulations governing its usage becomes even more critical.
While digital kidnapping may not be rampant in Nigeria, the country faces its unique challenges with technology usage. Fake news continues to polarize the nation along ethnic and religious lines, straining its unity. Internet fraud, known as ‘Yahoo, Yahoo,’ has devastated countless lives and businesses. Disturbingly, many young individuals aspire to become Internet fraudsters due to their prevalence in society. These instances illustrate that each society grapples with its technology-related downsides, necessitating a critical examination of technology’s excesses before it completely erodes humanity. Technology ethics become paramount in this context.
Technology ethics encompass principles used to govern technology, including risk management and individual rights. They are essential in understanding and resolving moral issues concerning the development and application of various technologies. To address these moral challenges, robust policies must be established to guide responsible technology usage. In Nigeria, where technology-related issues have earned citizens an undeserved reputation as Internet fraudsters outside the country’s shores, urgent action is needed. This task may be daunting, but it is achievable. It is not a call to suppress people’s rights to express themselves or use technology but rather a call to order in its usage. We cannot afford to inflict avoidable pain on ourselves through immoral technology use.
The burdens of fake news and internet fraud in Nigeria must be tackled before they escalate into more severe issues like digital kidnapping or mass destruction with nuclear weapons. Critical stakeholders within the country’s science, technology, and innovation (STI) space must confront the ethical challenges associated with technology use. Proactive measures can prevent further harm and ensure technology serves as a force for good in society. A well-structured governance framework is necessary to safeguard humanity and create a better, more responsible technological future. Indeed, a stitch in time saves nine. The time to act is now, to preserve our humanity and foster a brighter future where technology works in harmony with our values.