After the pessimism, balance?
For over a decade we’ve seen the tech industry lead the world down a path where things are supposedly only ever getting better — better smartphones, faster internet speeds, smarter gadgets, self-driving cars, A.I., A.R., 5G and all the rest.
Then in the past couple of years we’ve seen many voices in the media and the tech sector swing the other way, pointing out all the bad sides of tech. It was like they were paying a self-imposed penance for buying into all the blind optimism and positivity of the previous few years.
Now that the discussion of the bad sides of the tech revolution has led to talk of stronger government regulation of tech companies (a good thing, in principle), let’s hope we can now move the tone of discussions around the impact of tech to something more balanced.
Yes, tech has bad sides, but it’s still changing the world in countless positive ways too. It’s important to talk about halting the rollout of facial recognition
to ensure it’s not invading our privacy, but we should do so without demonising it. Anyone who’s used Google Photos and marvelled at how it can recognise an adult and a photo of them as a baby as the same person knows how it revolutionises the way you organise your personal memories.
It’s important now that tech companies not only talk up the good things they do for consumers by processing their data, but also recognise it’s only fair to be transparent about how it benefits themselves, too. How are image recognition technologies applied to my personal photos useful to Google?
Only when we understand these transactions can we have a fair and balanced understanding and discussion about technology, without the blind optimism or the overblown pessimism.