Each week in the lead up to Brave Conversations, we'll be chatting to two featured speakers about their take on the issues facing humans and technology, now and in the future.
Follow us on Twitter for updates at @braveconvos and #braveconversations
Rob Fitzpatrick CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association.
Tom Scott Head of Digital Engagement at Wellcome, responsible for Wellcome Collection’s ongoing digital transformation.
Fitzpatrick: “Data” is already ‘so yesterday’ – the challenge now is wise use and guardianship of AI. In 3-5 years I believe we’ll be needing a lot less data and applying predictive algorithms iteratively. Data will be used for edge cases, error checking or validation. The current drive for data is critical, but we’ll move through it quickly. As someone put it in a convo this week, if you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, the last thing you want is more hay.
· This means we need to work with the like of Genevieve Bell, David Thodey and similar social anthropologists in the HCI space (human computer interface)
· There’s also a lot of naivete about privacy vs convenience (the “I Agree” issue, for example). Privacy is not foremost a technology issue, it’s a culture, behavior & business issue…
· Finally, for ordinary mortals, what is the dark web and why/how should it worry me?
· Ubiquity – the web is a heroin for society and has transformed social mores profoundly in a decade. What happens when someone pulls the plug? (distribution of economic/welfare, provision of healthcare services, functionality of cities, global communications, …)
· The concept of ‘digital natives’ was relevant just a decade ago, now its unnecessary. In just the same way that the adjective ‘digital’ is unnecessary in front of the word ‘economy’.
Scott: It’s worth remembering that most people don’t have access to the web (c. 40% of the world’s population has internet connection, up from 1% in 1995) so the first most obvious challenge for most people is getting online. And for the majority of people getting online means getting online on a mobile device. And obviously with that come a number of challenges and opportunities: mobiles aren’t just about small screens – they also typically have lower and less reliable connectivity, more expensive connectivity but also come with extras e.g. cameras, location etc. and for some (esp iPhone users) access is less about the Web and more about Internet access via apps.
· Lack of viable commercial models for e.g. most news organisations and has important ramifications for society e.g. when looking at news there are a small number who have a successful model, the loss of diverse and local news is an issue for society. Those that rely on advertising are at risk e.g. as when Facebook started disintermediating them and risk eroding their user’s privacy; elsewhere as we begin to rely on SaaS we become reliant on those companies continuing to run that service (cf. installed software) that’s only possible if the company is able to make money/ able to remain independent. Because this is often not possible there is a drive towards a consolidation of key services (whether that be Facebook or AWS);
· More positively, there are a number of interesting new technologies that are now impacting on how ordinary people interact with software/ each other—most notably amongst these is probably AI and more specifically Machine Learning which has now become useful and viable and that is opening up a bunch of new things (e.g. image search). Interestingly as technologies become commoditised so power users lose power (both because what they do is within more people’s reach and also because the technologies become designed for everyday users).
· I’m not sure I agree that data is ‘so yesterday’ at least not in all instances – ML and cheap processing means that a lot of questions that weren’t practical to ask (getting to the answer would be too expensive / difficult) have now become feasible to ask and a lot of those questions include mining data.
· The Web continues to provide a mechanism to level the playing field allowing small companies to successfully compete with multinationals (e.g. WhatsApp now sends more messages than SMS). It does this because (a) you can easily provision infrastructure, (b) powerful services are available to be used, (c) it allows developers to abstract problems and compete on their terms.
· Awareness of individual responsibility;
· Understanding of the complexity, and dynamic ever-changing face of ‘technology’ – that if we solve for ‘today’ we’ll be caught short tomorrow; and,
· Acceptance of individual responsibility, with an overlay of a benevolent government that looks after those unable to look after themselves (99.9% of us)
· As an individual: Learn skills that can’t be automated; and Understand the medium within which you operate i.e. how the Web works and the commercial models enabled by those technologies.
· As a company/ government adapt your culture and expertise to be able to benefit from the technologies of the Internet and meet your users raised expectations.
· As society – recognise how the digital economy works modify your education, tax and laws to meet those challenges.
© Brave Conversations 2018