As usual, it is a toss up for what I should write about this week. Is it, WIRED’s article on the artificial womb, FastCo’s article on design thinking, the design fiction world of the movie The Circle, or WIRED’s warning about apps using your phone’s microphone to listen for ultrasonic marketing ‘beacons’ that you can’t hear? Tough call, but I decided on a different WIRED post that talked about the vision of Zuckerberg’s future at F8. Actually, the F8 future is a bit like The Circle anyway so I might be killing two birds with one stone.
At first, I thought the article titled, “Look to Zuck’s F8, Not Trump’s 100 Days, to See the Shape of the Future,” would be just another Trump bashing opportunity, (which I sometimes think WIRED prefers more than writing about tech) but not so. It was about tech, mostly.
The article, written by Zachary Karabell starts out with this quote,
“While the fate of the Trump administration certainly matters, it may shape the world much less decisively in the long-term than the tectonic changes rapidly altering the digital landscape.”
I believe this statement is dead-on, but I would include the entire “technological” landscape. The stage is becoming increasingly “set,” as the article continues,
“At the end of March, both the Senate and the House voted to roll back broadband privacy regulations that had been passed by the Federal Communications Commission in 2016. Those would have required internet service providers to seek customers’ explicit permission before selling or sharing their browsing history.”
Combine that with,
“Facebook[s] vision of 24/7 augmented reality with sensors, camera, and chips embedded in clothing, everyday objects, and eventually the human body…”
and the looming possibility of ending net neutrality, we could be setting ourselves up for the real Circle future.
“A world where data and experiences are concentrated in a handful of companies with what will soon be trillion dollar capitalizations risks being one where freedom gives way to control.”
To add kindling to this thicket, there is the Quantified Self movement (QS). According to their website,
“Our mission is to support new discoveries about ourselves and our communities that are grounded in accurate observation and enlivened by a spirit of friendship.”
Huh? Ok. But they want to do this using “self-tracking tools.” This means sensors. They could be in wearables or implantables or ingestibles. Essentially, they track you. Presumably, this is all so that we become more self-aware, and more knowledgeable about our selves and our behaviors. Health, wellness, anxiety, depression, concentration; the list goes on. Like many emerging movements that are linked to technologies, we open the door through health care or longevity, because it is an easy argument that being healty or fit is better than sick and out of shape. But that is all too simple. QS says that that we gain “self knowledge through numbers,” and in the digital age that means data. In a climate that is increasingly less regulatory about what data can be shared and with whom, this could be the beginings of the perfect storm.
As usual, I hope I’m wrong.