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Showing posts with the label Society

Foundations of Humane Technology - Course completed

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Back in January (has it been that long!) I completed the Foundations of Humane Technology course from the Center of Humane Technology . You may have heard of them, they made the Netflix Documentary " The Social Dilemma ". If you haven't watched the movie, it's well worth a watch, delving into the often devastating impacts of Social Media. The course explored how to build technology in a more responsible way to minimise the harmful consequences of the technology you build. It's perfect for technology oriented Product owners and developers like myself, requiring us to think about externalities and unintended consequences, and aligning our values with the products we build. I was made to reflect on how technology has impacted me personally, and realised how my health, cognition and attention were impacted by technology overuse. I was obliged to acknowledge that I am very privileged and lucky, I don’t have any major accessibility issues and my demographic allows me t

Is Meta's Metaverse really what the world needs right now?

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I started blogging in the late 00s to write about Transhumanism, Technology, and Virtual Reality.  Technology has always been a passion. Growing up in the 80s I lived through an incredible evolution of electronics and computing. Mass mobile communication was a science fiction wonder I read about in the technology magazine Quest . My internet was Teletext , I wrote letters to pen pals. It was a time of hope and wonder for what the future of technology could bring. Until the last few years, this wonder has continued. Smart phones have brought us closer together, and the digital world has matured into a significant piece of our lives. I think it was the Apple watch when things changed for me. The iphone was an incredible, though incremental, world changing gadget. We all know that. But when the Apple watch was announced it became obvious that these technology companies had peaked. They were no longer about pushing boundaries, they were no longer interested in trying to evolve society with

Adventures without a smartphone

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Photo by Raychan on Unsplash I spent a day without a smartphone. As most of us have, I’ve grown addicted to the conveniences and dopamine hits of smartphones. So I decided to see how, and if, I would function without one. The night before I was due to go into the office, I took the SIM out of my Pixel 2 and inserted it into my old Nokia E63. In the morning, I got up, grabbed both phones, and headed for the train station. I had the Nokia in my pocket and my Pixel tucked away safely in my bag. I decided to take the Pixel too in case there was something urgent that I had forgotten about that I might need my phone for. I had no intention of using it. Also, I don’t have wifi at work, and I’m not sure if you’ve realised, but smartphones are almost useless without internet. Almost all apps require it, and those that don’t are not apps that you would generally spend a lot of time on. So without the SIM, I wasn’t likely to use the Pixel at all. I arrived at the station and had t

Sunday Service at the Church of Retail

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Sundays. The day of rest. The day of community, and spiritual reflection. Or at least it used to be. Now, we have something else. Today’s church is the shopping mall. We worship retailers. We congregate not side by side but in long queues, at the alter of the checkout. We pray for discounts, credit cards in hand, stain glassed windows replaced with shiny glass store fronts. This is the world we have built for ourselves – consumerism is our new religion. There is no community here. We shop alone in large crowds, even fighting each other for the last bargains. Instead of spiritual guidance, we have forced lip service from uncaring store clerks. The almighty dollar is our god now. These shiny, air conditioned, logo-emblazoned plazas are our churches. I’m in no way religious – but there is definitely something to be said about getting together with your community and reminding yourself of life’s purpose. Of course, it would be better minus the guilt, indoctrination and irrational

Automation and its Impacts on the Labour Economy

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“ The Lights in the Tunnel ” by Martin Ford explores the implications of the increasing automation of labour. It begins by visualizing the world economy, and how it will change as automation increasingly eliminates labour. Many commonly held beliefs are dispelled throughout the book with convincing logic and some unquestionable evidence. This is not something we can afford to ignore. Even without the current rapid advances in technology or full artificial general intelligence, automation is going to have some significant effects on society, and it is going to happen sooner than you think. The Reality of Automation This is not science fiction. Far-off notions of intelligent androids performing our every wish are the least of our worries. Automation is set to displace workers in many areas with little advance in technology. With profit as the incentive, it is only a matter of time. Much of this displacement is simply a question of design. For example, automated checkouts ar

R18 certificates are not an excuse for being a bad member of society

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I've been a gamer for 3 decades, seeing the games industry mature from dots on a screen into a prolific mainstream industry. I'm not afraid of controversy in games. I want to make it abundantly clear: I'm not advocating banning anything.  I've seen many disturbing titles, far worse than Grand Theft Auto. But this was when games were a cult market, and the technology was so basic, it was easy to dismiss the phenomenon. Now, games have matured. They can do more and they reach more people. Like movies and other entertainment, they have the power to influence society. With this influence comes some level of responsibility. It's not an obligation - games are art and should be able to push boundaries - but rape in a video game is not art. It's gratuitous indulgence in a sickness, a sickness that hides behind freedom of expression. If we're going to get philosophical about it (and I guarantee the proponents will) you could ask “where does it end? Should we ban all

Corrolation, Causation, and Prediction in a World of Data and Memes

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As image memes gain popularity on social networks and forums, they are fast securing their place as a defining cultural aspect of the early tweenies...(unlike the word "tweenies", thankfully). Most of these images are humourous, as this is great for virality, many are profound, some just witty nuggets of wisdom. And then there is the propaganda. Intended to illicit an emotional response to a political idea, propaganda memes are used to affirm or reaffirm a political bias or dogma. They are often aimed at a very particular niche. If you have any particular political or activist persuasion, you will no doubt have seens endless streams of these one-sided affirmations. At best, they are intellectual masturbation. At worst, it's pseudo-scientific social engineering. The worst form of this that I have seen is data correlation inferences. Just because something happened on a certain date does not mean it caused something else that happened around the same time. It is complet

Is Google too Big? Size isn't important, it's what you do with it that counts

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There's no doubt that Google is the "Ford" of the day, pioneering a new industry which is changing our lives on a fundamental level. With this in mind, it was only a matter of time before this monopolistic driving of our destinies was called to question. I recently attended a debate held by Spiked which asked the question "Has Google got too big?" As a debate, it was relatively tame, given that no one person was strongly on the side of either "yes" or "no". However, this was due mainly to the complexity of the question, so as a discussion, it became rather in depth. Size Doesn't Matter Proponents of Google tried to void the argument, pointing out that the use of the adjective "big" was irrelevant, and that size had no implications, and that we should be asking ourselves whether they are "good" or "evil". While this is true, there's no doubt that Google's size is intimately connected to its "mor

How Social Data can Manipulate Society

What are the implications of storing a complete record of your life online? More than likely, you'll be halfway towards this already. Facebook has your friends. Google has your search history, your emails and your documents. Microsoft has your chat history. Last.fm has your taste in music. Delicious has your interests. Twitter has your random thoughts. And all this is voluntary. Imagine what they may be doing with this data, when it's all brought together, what will it tell them about you? It's no surprise that Google is buying everything. Of course it's worrying, but I suppose it's not the end of the world if some big corporation has your information. It's not even anything new, credit card companies have been doing it for decades. The issue now though is that the information mined is more detailed and complete than it's ever been before. And it's all owned by American companies. Companies who, thanks to the patriot act, have to hand over