Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz probably said it best in a conversation from a hit movie of this year:
Jay: “It went up! It went up to the cloud!”
Annie: “And you can’t get it down from the cloud?”
Jay: “Nobody understands the cloud! It’s a [expletive] mystery!”
Jay was right; the “cloud” can be a riddle, wrapped in a [expletive] mystery, inside an enigma for many people. Its inner machinations are so difficult to comprehend that I doubt even veteran computer geeks understand how it works. Fortunately for us laymen, we can reap the vast benefits of this marvelous service without scratching our heads in confusion too much.
The cloud is simply a way to store our data. Instead of storing information in our computers, information is broken up and copied into giant mass-storage centers all over the country or even the world. These centers are owned by companies like Apple, Dropbox, Netflix, Amazon, Flickr, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo – just to name a few. The services provided by these companies allow us to save time and energy; one can start an episode of Parks and Recreation on a computer at home, continue it on his or her tablet on a commute, and finish it on a laptop at work, for example. This versatility of data exchange is becoming ever-apparent in the technology sphere – almost to the point at which “the cloud” and “the machine” are one and inseparable.
So is this a bad thing for us poor humans? Is this the start of a covert robot revolution, seeking to slowly gather our personal information and use it against us in the near future? Perhaps that future in itself is a bit far-fetched; however, with the advent of cloud computing, the number of sinister hackers looking to access the 400 billion photos posted by Facebook users (and other irreplaceable pieces of data, of course) has indubitably risen. Some of these attempts are successful (readers may remember the iCloud photo “discharge” of recent months), while the vast majority fail, thanks in part to the intense security measures being put in place by companies.
These companies provide an important concern themselves; what exactly are they doing with our data? Is a photo from your iPhone really deleted at the touch of a button? One would certainly hope so, yet a true techie knows that there is a good chance that that same photo is still stored in an iCloud facility somewhere around the globe. Furthermore, an increasing number of reports have proven that companies are exploiting our data for marketing purposes in order to probe us for how we behave as consumers, a postulation that is somewhat disconcerting.
Whether we like it or not, we are subjected to the cloud every day of our lives. There may come a time when all of us have chips implanted into our brains connecting us to a conglomerate data service. Until that happens, I’d advise saving those old floppy drives for a rainy day.