Picture this: everyone around you is wearing virtual reality contact lenses connected by bluetooth to their smart watches and phones, and to biometric implants monitoring health and energy, and cloud-networked clothing with various comfort or performance enhancements. Sure, some among them are counter-cultural, choosing to shed the wearable tech in favor of old fashioned (and yet trendy) “simple” clothes. But as you look around, it is clear that there is a current which is sweeping us all towards a world where more and more is connected “informationally”. Everything is wearable, snackable, shareable, on-demand and streaming. In this world, information is constantly raining down on us. Let’s call this information deluged world “[s]eattle” because people in Seattle adapt to the rain rather than moving away.
In this world, information is constantly raining down on us. Let’s call this information deluged world “[s]eattle” because people in Seattle adapt to the rain rather than moving away.
In seattle I need an umbrella and a rain jacket to have any kind of a social life. In seattle there are pleasant storms that water my potted plants, and there are storms that knock down power lines. In seattle, the rain is part of our identity as a community.
The information deluge will be like that. Some will move away, but for most of us, it will be a force that we adapt to. How will we adapt? Here are 5 of my many predictions:
- Despite hopes and fears about AI and big data algorithms, people at large will still heavily depend on their social networks to curate the information around them. The internet of things will be organized (increasingly) around social relationships. While there are many instances where relationships are organized around information, this eventually feeds back into the more human pattern of organizing information around relationships. Technology will evolve to support the human desire to be social and connected in meaningful ways.
- Meaningful connections that are made through unique social channels (i.e. a Roku station for NASA aficionados with a corresponding Facebook page) will lead to some stratification between social groups. This is because, as we are able to find people more like ourselves, we are less inclined to engage (professionally and politically) with others around us of different opinions. Birds of a feather flock together, and when technology fosters this phenomenon, some flocks get bigger than we expect (cat video lovers?) and some shrink (brick and mortar associations).
- Many technologies that currently exist will fail to gain popular usage because creators won’t anticipate human nature and desires.
- There will be an increasing premium on humans who are good at curating the good from the bad – the good tech from the useless, the good articles from the clickbait, the good music from the blah, the good opportunities from the time-sucks. These curators will be our trusted sources in a noisy world. Obtaining status as a trusted curator will require more than a high academic degree, fame or money. It will require consistent, excellent choices that become a track record worth trusting.
- One of the main obstacles to technology’s potential will be litigiousness. If we determine that driverless cars could save thousands of lives every year, but are afraid of what a vehicle’s algorithm would do in a lose-lose scenario (and the implications for who would be at fault), we could become wrapped around the axle with the law. Likely story. On the other hand, law is one of the only things holding back technology’s intrusion into every corner of our lives, so it is a double edged sword.