Technology has made our lives easier in many ways. The Internet, smart phones, smart home appliances, smart navigation systems… they’ve all helped us function better in an increasingly complex world.
But there’s a dark side to technology. Actually, several dark sides. For example, even some of the most famous people in the world are warning about the rise of artificial intelligence (AI).
Recently, Twitter owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk spoke at the Viva Tech Conference in Paris. The world’s wealthiest person said AI could morph into something that can’t be controlled. And this could result in a “catastrophic outcome” for humanity.
“We need to minimize the probability that something will go wrong with digital super intelligence,” Musk said. “I think there’s a real danger for digital super intelligence having negative consequences.”
Technology = Less Privacy
What I believe is a more immediate concern regarding technology is how it’s invading our privacy. These days, it seems like anyone can find out just about anything about anybody with a few laptop keystrokes.
Today I want to talk about what you can do to start getting off the grid. And by that I don’t mean completely off-grid. I’m not suggesting you change your name and move to a cabin in a remote part of the country.
I just mean more off-grid than you are now. I’m referring to making it more difficult for people to find out every aspect of your life. Including who you know, where you work, where you shop, what your hobbies are, etc.
This includes reducing your digital footprint and gathering items you need to become more self-reliant. If you’re feeling nervous about the rise in technology and the giant leaps artificial intelligence is taking, this message is for you.
You Can Limit Access
As mentioned, the Internet makes it easy for everyone from government officials to cyber criminals to find out about you. Chances are, completely deleting your digital footprint is impossible.
This would involve changing your name and getting your legal name removed from all tax documents. It would involve moving somewhere remote, paying cash for everything, and avoiding facial recognition cameras.
That’s a lot of work. So, unless you’re running from the law – and you have a lot of money – you probably don’t want to go that far to get off-grid.
But you may want to limit access to your personal information. Merely reducing what others can find out about you through online research might be enough to protect you against some unwanted contact, cyberattacks, or identity theft.
OK, so let’s look at some ways you can become less traceable.
Protect Your Communication Network
The first and easiest way to start accomplishing this is by deleting your social media accounts. If you don’t want to do that, at least remove personal information from them. Including where you live, where you work, etc.
Next, assuming you wish to continue using your smart phone and computer, you’ll want to encrypt your network. After determining which of your devices are connected, encrypt them to encode the data transmitted over your network.
Depending on your level of technological expertise, you may have to hire someone to do this. While they’re at it, ask them to install a more protective operating system, if necessary. Windows, for example, is vulnerable to security breaches.
Your browser may also be less secure than you’d like. One of the least safe browsers is Internet Explorer.
Delete Old Accounts & Apps
Your next step is to delete old accounts you no longer use. You may have to go through old emails to remember some of them.
Deleting any apps you don’t need is another action to take. You may have unknowingly agreed to allow companies owning those apps to use your personal data.
For apps you want to keep, make sure they have strong privacy settings. And ensure you can opt out of providing them with personal information.
Shopping online has become commonplace and has its advantages. You may not want to end this habit, but make sure places from which you make purchases are committed to your privacy.
7 More Actions to Take
Earlier I mentioned going off-grid does not necessarily mean changing your name and moving to a remote part of the country. But if you’re really serious about going off-grid, relocating might be an option for you.
Even if you don’t choose to move at this time, there are a number of other things you can do to gain more privacy and self-reliance while preparing for emergency situations.
- Think about where you may want to relocate to someday. Read up on areas that interest you, learning more about the climate, land availability, and building codes.
- Start (or continue) going solar. Perhaps that means solar panels on the roof of your home or in your yard. Maybe even a solar-powered generator or a wind turbine.
- Stockpile as much clean drinking water as you have room for. Just as important, make sure you have ways to filter water from your faucets and surrounding bodies of water.
- Store a significant amount of long-lasting survival food. There is no way to overemphasize the importance of this strategy. In addition, grow as much of your own food as possible in a backyard garden.
- Think about ways you could earn money in an off-grid fashion. Whatever you are good at and enjoy could work. It might be woodworking, repairing vehicles, or even selling some of the food you grow.
- Network with others concerned about privacy and preparing for an uncertain future. A group will always be stronger than each of its individuals because it will provide a variety of skill sets.
- Make sure you are in the best possible health. Exercise regularly and eat healthy foods. The better physical shape you are in during a crisis, the better you’ll be able to handle it.
Going completely off-grid is probably unrealistic for most of us. And is probably not what we want anyway. But limiting the amount of information people can easily gather about us is a worthy goal. As is preparing for inevitable emergencies or situations where you would need to lay low.