Technology can’t be trusted blindly

In our modern age, technology is advancing so quickly it’s often difficult to keep up. It seems as soon as you buy a new cellphone, tablet or computer a smaller, faster version of the same product appears on the market, instantly making your machine obsolete.

A more serious problem is the difficulty of understanding all the ways technology is being used around us, and even against us, especially by our government. The Edward Snowden/NSA scandal demonstrated how easily our personal gadgets can now be used to spy on us.

Science fiction writers have been warning the public for decades about this type of scenario, but most of us found their ideas too outlandish: “Those conspiracy theories could never really happen!” Now we know they can.

Hopefully, Americans are starting to look more closely at the ways our government is using emerging technology. It is in this spirit that we’ve presented a two-part series of articles, including a front-page story in today’s edition.

The series investigates the Barbour County school system’s decision to scan students’ fingerprints as part of the cafeteria process at Philip Barbour High School.

Here’s an example of how technological advances can slip right by without our noticing: how many of us were aware that Randolph County has been scanning students’ fingerprints in the lunch lines at Elkins Middle and Elkins High School for several years?

We don’t suggest that anything sinister is going on – these scanners are used in many, but not all, states across the country (Michigan and Iowa have outlawed their use in schools). However, we believe that it’s worth taxpayers’ time to learn as much as possible about how these wonders of technology are being slipped into American institutions.

None of us want to be fooled again, the way we were by the NSA. Just like the children in our schools, we need to learn all we can.