Taken singly, various articles about social media and technology would be mildly interesting. Taken together, three or four articles last week point to a seismic shift in the way we think about technology – and our relationship with it.
First, Twitter’s Mister Dorsey is now the champion of standards and working out ways of policing content on his platform – and others. It is a sound idea. Decentralise content policing and standardise social media platforms so that they behave more like email applications. Then it becomes about content that encourages positive conversation and avoids centralised (Government) control.
Good. Sanity comes to social media and not before time.
Next, researchers have officially stated that emotion recognition technology should be banned before it is too late. This too makes sense. We, as humans, are instinctively nervous of technology making decisions about things that technology does not understand. Like emotion. And when we are beginning to use technology to decide whether we are right for a job (for instance) that hits two nerves. Technology does not understand emotion and will make decisions that might well be wrong. And, anyway, don’t play around with how we get jobs. That is just too important.
So it is good news that we are beginning to work out ways of curbing technology for technology’s sake.
Third, and perhaps most interesting is, as John Tanner reports, that kids do not trust Alexa (other home surveillance systems are available). In fact, kids are beginning to test Alexa (and other home surveillance systems) and are trying to see if they tell the truth, not just state facts.
According to the survey curator, Danovitch, ‘we can extend this to the internet in general – Alexa et al are basically internet interfaces, and even when it comes to web browsers and apps, kids don’t take everything at face value’.
This, too, is interesting, important and a relief to people who were beginning to think that technology was taking over the asylum.
Take these stories together – and add as many more as you can collect – and it begins to look a lot like a real shift. A shift from a technology, social media, smart speaker or any internet interface race to one where our natural nervousness begins to question where this is going.
All of which must be good and all of which might very well bring our natural enthusiasm about technology and its general coolness back into perspective.
2020 and beyond will be interesting times and will bring opportunities that are not just about the next big thing in technology.