Last blog post?! I think my friends will feel #blessed they never have to hear me say, “I still have to finish that blog post” ever again. But I’m not celebrating. First of all, I will miss the opportunity every other week to independently explore an aspect of social media or emerging technologies and to practice writing engagingly. Second, I know that writing my final blog post means that this class is coming to a close, which means saying goodbye to the Fall 2017 #is6621 community. I wanted to wrap it up by discussing these three takeaways from the semester.
- Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, Amazon’s Taking Over
Amazon is climbin’ in your windows, dropping your packages off. Amazon is now in our homes, on the streets in brick and mortar form, and in our Whole Foods. It felt like every week there was at least one new Amazon topic to discuss whether it was a new product or service or concern about their crossing the creepy/cool line. I think @Matt Giovanniello described Amazon perfectly in the title of one of his blog posts as “The Juggernaut with a Life Vest and Wings.” With a financial cushion from AWS, Amazon has the capital to innovate and delve into several different initiatives. They also have a captivated and loyal user base that they have been collecting consumer data on.
Amazon is making its offerings as accessible and convenient as possible by allowing customers to continue or complete their online Amazon experience in physical stores and during their grocery run. At the beginning of the semester, Amazon expanded its grocery options beyond its Amazonfresh grocery delivery service by acquiring Whole Foods. This acquisition has helped them better compete with Walmart and has proven to be a beneficial partnership for both Amazon and Whole Foods. In November, they also started opening physical Amazon bookstores and locations to pick up online orders. While Amazon is delving into many different things, they are carefully integrating every aspect to optimize their users’ experiences.
At the beginning of the semester, we were ok with having our artificially intelligent friend, Alexa in our homes even though she was always listening and acting as Amazon’s spy to collect data on us. However, when Amazon released that it would be putting AI cameras in our homes, we had a stronger reaction. We were more inclined to call this creepy than cool. But when we took a step back, we realized that this was just like any other new technology that emerges. We were first nervous to get into cars with strangers, but now we cannot imagine a life without Uber. Analogous to technology in general, Amazon is infiltrating our lives and shows no signs of stopping.
- Bots are Coming in Hot
With the development of machine learning technologies, robots and other vehicles for AI are becoming smarter and more emotional. This robot is even an activist fighting for women’s rights. This has major implications for the future of work. The job landscape will look vastly different. Humans will have to adjust to working side by side with AI machines and robots. The rise of AI will not demolish the number of jobs available, just the type of jobs. Andrew McAfee says that “the new machine age” is making manufacturing more efficient, lowering prices and allowing volume and quality to explode. There are many positive benefits to machines taking over jobs, but the middle class is being threatened. Educated and technology-capable people are thriving, while less educated laborers are falling further and further behind.
Along the same lines, self-driving cars are coming in hot. As the semester has gone on, the adoption of autonomous vehicles seem more and more likely to be a reality within the next five years. Just in the past few weeks, automakers like Ford and GM have announced that they will be starting to develop autonomous vehicles.
- Stay Woke
We talked a lot in this class about the creepy/cool line that I already mentioned. It has been a trend, however, that the emerging technology that we initially think is creepy ends up being accepted after we get accustomed to the idea. I think going forward, as technology becomes more invasive, it will be important to simply be aware of the data we are entrusting and the potentially vulnerable positions we are putting ourselves in.
It will also be important to notice how we let technology control us, especially in light of Sherry Turkle’s Ted Talk about smartphones and social media making us more connected, but also feel more alone. It will be our responsibility to monitor how technology is affecting and changing our own lives and the lives of our children.
This is, no doubt, the most valuable class I have taken at BC. I will not just walk away from this class equipped with a much more informed understanding of social media, digital business, and emerging technologies. I will walk away with a completely new and more insightful perspective that will allow me to speak much more intelligently about these topics. A diversity of backgrounds, ages, and interests led to enlightening conversations, a plethora of interesting and engaging blog posts, varied presentation topics, and so many conversation-stimulating tweets. More so than any other class, I felt that we all contributed to each other’s learning. Most importantly, more so than any other class, I felt like I could somewhat impress my extremely intelligent and technology-obsessed brother with relevant knowledge and insight to emerging technologies. So THANK YOU all, #is6621, for the snacks! Oh and all of your illuminating contributions that made this class truly invaluable.