We see  —  mostly  —  as wearing a white hat. Many of us associate it with advances that make our lives more fun and efficient, with the prospect that there may even someday be a device to solve society’s problems, from delivering better health care to reducing pollution.

But what about the down side? Sure, we can now communicate with anyone from anywhere, but that digital trail is also ripe for exploitation by companies that use it to push advertising at you, and also by governments seemingly intent on harvesting every bit of information they can get on you.

With Nanos Research, Policy Options set out to discover how Canadians feel about technology. Do they see it as a force for good in society, or do they see it in a more negative light? The research results suggest “a cautionary tale,” says Nik Nanos, chair of Nanos Research Group. The majority see technology as helpful on broad social issues, such as providing us with the medical care we need in old age, finding solutions to climate change and creating jobs for the middle class. But people are more leery of technology when it comes to preserving their personal privacy.

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“Our general default on technology is that it’s a good thing,” Nanos says. “We see technology as a way to eventually solve our problems related to health and the environment. The one dark cloud is technology’s personal implications,” he says. “We’re technology optimists in the big picture. But when it comes to our personal lives, we worry.”


Bruce Wallace
Bruce Wallace was appointed editor of Policy Options magazine, the IRPP's flagship publication, in August 2012. A native of Montreal, he was Tokyo bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times from 2004 to 2008, after which he became that newspaper's foreign editor. Over a long career in journalism he has reported from across Canada and around the world, covering wars, elections, economics and three Olympic Games. He has worked outside Canada for 16 of the last 19 years, so he has a good understanding of the global economic, political and security currents that affect Canadian public policy.

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