That Blue Square Thing

AQA Computer Science GCSE

July 2019: the AQA CompSci area is almost complete. Most of the content for units 3-6 is now up and there's quite a lot of Unit 7 material. There's still some work to do, particularly on Paper 1 units, but it's getting there.

Ethics - the use of Mobile Technologies

As well as widespread wireless networks, mobile internet networks are increasingly part of people’s lives - 3G, 4G and, soon, 5G networks allow internet use on a much more mobile basis than ever before.

This brings many of the same advantages and disadvantages as the use of wireless networking and you should consider the key points on that page as related to this - as well as the related legal issues.

The mobile technologies we have available make it possible for us to live in a much more “connected” society.

PDF iconDriverless Cars - some newspaper headlines

The Costs of Mobile Technologies

Network security is a major issue related to this. The controversy caused by Chinese firm Huawei wanting to be involved in the provision of 5G networks in the UK highlighted this. If we’re going to rely on these sorts of networks then they need to be 100% reliable as well - if the network goes down, what happens to those driverless cars?

How hackable are our cities? - BBC video from 2014 (so a bit out of date perhaps)

There are other issues with regard to privacy. Mobile technologies rely on knowing where you are and what you’re doing. This data should be private, but where will it be stored and who will have access to it? There have been issues with companies having access to, for example, voice recordings from systems such as Alexa. See The Google city that has angered Toronto for an even wider issue.

Networks have a significant cost to put in place and don’t yet have complete coverage. If you don’t have access to 4G you can’t do as many things quickly enough. There’s also the ongoing problem of network saturation - too many people trying to use the network at once.

Networks will tend to put in place where more users live. This means that big cities such as London will get better coverage more quickly. If systems start to rely on networks, what happens to more remote rural areas such as the north of Scotland? In these sorts of areas there may also be issues with the strength of signal due to the landscape (mountains get in the way).

If people rely on access to mobile technologies to access systems, what happens when they can’t access the network because it’s not as reliable where they are? Or what happens if they can’t afford to access the network?

24/7 access to networks also comes at other costs. If I’m expected to access my work e-mail on a phone, that can mean I’m always available to do things for work - which has costs in terms of stress and mental health. It’s easy to say that people should just ignore this, but it’s a very real issue for many people.