As we move more and more into a digital world the data we share about ourselves online, from personal information to personality traits, will continue to grow. News stories recently have made it more and more tempting to fear technology.
Data Protection regulations or no, unscrupulous firms will use our data, collected legally in some cases [Just check out the terms and conditions on some websites & apps. Who’s going to read all of that?] to sell us things, to sell our details to other firms who will sell us things etc.
Cambridge Analytica, the firm at the centre of the Facebook data scandal, have suspended boss Alexander Nix in the wake of allegations of manipulating personal data and using it to target voters in the 2016 American Presidential Election.
[Bringing to mind the phrase: If you don’t pay for a product; YOU are the product.]
Which is to say nothing of the information collected by cookies on the web, your phone on what apps you use, and for how long, Google Maps on our locations. The list is endless. We even have a robot in our kitchen tracking our every word waiting to hear “Alexa, play Cool FM” for Pete’s sake.
All of which is pretty scary.
There was supposed to be a ‘but’ here highlighting all the obvious advantages of tech, but I am struggling to be enthused by it. I just take the technology for granted. I’m also spending too much time watching Boston Dynamics pre-apocalypse videos.
I guess what I’m trying to say is we have to accept the rough with the smooth. Instead of worrying about the worst-case scenarios it is up to us, Citizens Of Early 21st Century, to educate ourselves on the pitfalls of tech and avoid them. Navigating things like Dark Patterns is part of the curriculum for the modern age.
Much more interesting to me, are the tech advancements which will help you the customer. One example would be the chatbot Do Not Pay which has been successfully fighting car parking tickets (and more recently getting flight refunds) for years FOR FREE. Technology which automates simple procedure will provide the lowest costs to end users and therefore benefit everyone.
Robot Financial Advisers are already making waves in the investment world and in the next few years, there will be an expansion of potentially similar technology in law firms [hint: in the biggest firms it’s already well afoot]. Whether this is client facing or not doesn’t matter, the revolution is coming. Deloitte forecasts that around 114,000 UK legal jobs are likely to be automated in the next 20 years, ‘most of them junior jobs, with many more at high risk of elimination through technology’.
All of which means you have to educate yourself or risk being left behind. After all, a robot is just a difference engine, it’s the humans programming it that we have to watch out for.
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