Stephen Wu, an expert on technology and business law, discussed the ramifications of dramatic advances in technology and the vast new interconnectedness during a May 1 appearance at the Rotary Club of Los Altos.
According to Wu, whose practice Cook Kobrick & Wu LLP is located on Main Street in Los Altos, the security of people’s personal information “will become one of the most important issues for our society.”
Breaches of security pose the prospect of severe financial loss. Millions of Target, Neiman Marcus and Sony customers recently learned that the security of the stores’ credit systems had been compromised.
Adobe Systems Inc. last October reported that hackers stole 2.9 million customer records, and Wu said the bottom line for Target’s responsibilities may reach $2 billion.
The exponential growth of computing capabilities has empowered today’s smartphone with roughly a million times more capacity than the mainframe computers that ran entire government agencies in the 1960s, Wu said.
He anticipates nearly universal connectivity in virtually any place people live or travel.
Artificial intelligence and robots hold great promise, Wu noted, as does the use of 3-D printing, already employed for a wide variety of products ranging from metal machine parts to plastic parts, sculptures, artwork and clothing – and perhaps eventually producing organs for medical transplantation.
Google Inc.’s driverless cars are about to create a revolution in transportation, Wu said, though they must be proven safe on city streets. Wu added that he expects the transition to driverless cars to occur during his lifetime.
Miniaturization of mobile computing platforms will produce wristwatches and automobile dashboard systems that operate like powerful computers, according to Wu. He also emphasized the growth of data mining, mentioning how one father was incensed that his teenage daughter was receiving ads for baby clothes and products until he realized that the retailers knew before he did that his daughter was expecting a baby.
The merging of life sciences and information technology will create tremendous power as well as increased risk due to hackers and violations of privacy, Wu said.
This could be “one of the most important issues to face humankind,” he warned. “We need moral codes to guide us. These advancements of technology are not the stuff of impossible imaginings – they are here now, and we need to be aware of the benefits and risks of rapidly developing technologies.”
Wu has authored or co-authored six books on information security and the law.
For more information, visit ckwlaw.com.
Marlene Cowan is a member of the Rotary Club of Los Altos.