01100110 01100001 01110010 01100101 01110111 01100101 01101100 01101100, #IS6621. (Translation.)
The last 14 weeks have been illuminating for me. I came into this course with some cynical views on social media, digital businesses, and technology. I thought social media was a place for you to show a “better” version of yourself, a place to hide behind your computer and say whatever you wanted without recourse, a place to hide from the “real” world. Engaging with classmates in this course has shown me that social media and technology in general are so much more interesting and important than I realized. My feelings were especially changed after last week’s class. The “ Is Google Making Us Stupid?” article and the TedTalk “How the Internet Enables Intimacy” were eye opening for me. While there are still things about social media, technology, and the Internet that I don’t understand (and that lack of understanding can make me feel scared of it), I’ve definitely cultivated more of an open mind toward technology because of this course.
However, there are still a few technology related things that give me the heebie-jeebies:
Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI popped up multiple times throughout this class. While I realize that AI doesn’t only mean robots that look human and act human (…but aren’t human?), it still is disturbing. Sure, Siri is kind of cool and people love Alexa, but have you seen Westworld?
Big Data. I don’t even have a Facebook account, but I feel like it still knows more about me than my mom does and that just doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t avoid Google, so it certainly knows me inside and out. I’ve talked to a lot of people who like that the advertisements they see on Facebook and Gmail are targeted to them. My partner clicks on advertisements selling him things all the time and loves that they are actually things he is interested in. I sort of understand that, but I still can’t get past the creep factor. We read an interview Professor Kane conducted with the Vice President of Global Partnerships at Facebook, “How Facebook is Delivering Personalization on a Whole New Scale,” at the beginning of the semester that didn’t really comfort me. In it, he explained that companies who advertise on Facebook can track the effectiveness of those advertisements, not just if you click on it and purchase online, but if you saw that ad on Facebook and then went to a store and purchased that item. There is also a list, “21 Scary Things Big Data Knows About You,” from Forbes I’d recommend you check out. We can’t realistically hide from Big Data and still be actively contributing members of the society we’ve built, so I’m going to have to grit my teeth and accept it.
Now, onto a happier note. There are a few tech things that I found eerie before this class, but that I now find exciting!
Self-driving (autonomous) cars. A year ago, I thought this would be madness. We aren’t going to see that in our lifetime, I thought. I’d never get in a car that drove itself, I thought. Now that I’ve learned more about this technology and have had the chance to talk about it in this class, I don’t understand why I thought it was so terrifying before. I also don’t know how I didn’t realize that this was something that was absolutely happening in my lifetime. They are piloting driverless cars, it’s happening. This is one of the new techy things I’m excited to embrace.
Space exploration. To be fair, this one didn’t exactly freak me out before, but I didn’t understand Elon Musk’s stake in this. Why did he want to go to space so bad? The students in this class helped me better understand this one. He’s forward thinking, the SpaceX website says “The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.” With the way we are treating this planet, I think it might be a good idea to look for backups. Thanks, Elon.
Augmented Reality (AR). While less scary than AI, definitely still has a creep factor. Pokemon Go was a hit when it came out. I haven’t actually played the game, but I saw it and thought it was pretty cool how they could overlap pokemon into our world. It’s innovative and cool, I see so many practical applications for it. I read an article recently about AR as a treatment to reduce phantom pain in missing limbs. There was that episode of Black Mirror that sort of used AR that was rather terrifying, but I’m still leaning toward this being a really good, powerful, new technology!
Digital innovation is exciting and it’s happening fast. We are lucky to be living right in the middle of it. This class helped me to engage in new technologies and updates in the tech world in a way that I hadn’t before. I will be keeping myself more informed in tech news now. Thanks everyone is #IS6621 for engaging conversations, blog posts, comments, and more!
“The proper artistic response to digital technology is to embrace it as a new window on everything that’s eternally human, and to use it with passion, wisdom, fearlessness, and joy.”