Gary Arnold, Chief Technology Officer at Edit Agency
New technology is shaping everyone’s lives. You might feel nervous about this.
However, I think there’s cause for optimism. The bulk of change ahead is going to make life better, not worse.
The negative undercurrent associated with Big Tech - for example that AI is a threat to jobs - is largely misguided.
Technology is set to benefit us, by taking away menial tasks and enabling us to be more creative. Let’s look into what’s changing, what why it might not be a bad thing after all:
Tech for good
In many cases, technology can be used as a force for good.
We recently teamed up with IBM Watson to solve a humanitarian challenge using AI. We helped with the initiative, ‘Missing Maps’ to bring satellite imagery to enable aid workers to reach remote destinations.
AI can recognise roads, dwellings and towns, and by automating this function, aid workers can get access to the information they need.
Find out more about this project here.
What things can make your customer experience rubbish?
If you’re buying a car, then navigating the hundreds of choices available to you can be overwhelming. Browsing one manufacturer's website, compared with visiting your local showroom, might be a totally different experience.
Each of these experiences varies, and chances are the information you share won't flow from one experience to another, a form of digital amnesia that causes confusion and frustration... I think this is about to change.
In the future, expect a more joined-up experience. Instead of clashes between online and offline, our mobile devices can form a ‘bridge’ and our experience becomes blended.
The rise of augmented reality is a good example of this. What if you were deciding which colour to paint a room? AR can be used to picture room colours, furniture styles and creative ideas live. Buying clothes? You could try them on a virtual model matched to your exact size to see what they look like.
Another great example of a daily pain is finding parking spaces. Especially if you live in Bath. New Smart City technology could make parking a breeze, helping you identify free spaces, reserve the space and then navigate you to it. Or it could take control of traffic management to minimise congestion, or encourage drivers to leave the car behind and use public transport that is always on time and better connected.
All these things should remove friction and save time. They’re not as scary as people think.
An end to fake news
Fake news is a giant problem facing online publishers. How can the spread of harmful content be policed? The answer might be AI.
Although a perfect solution hasn’t been created yet, indeed the fake news challenge (a competition to crowdsource AI solutions to identify fake news) actually identified it may never be possible, however new technology is enabling online monitoring of the origin of fake news, and is flagging harmful content far quicker than ever before. It’s not solved the problem yet, but it's helping people to do this better so there’s cause for optimism here too.
As well as an end to harmful content, so people are set to be more empowered with their own healthcare. Whether it’s booking an appointment with the doctor, or better understanding of our own health issues, new health tech should give us greater control. In some countries, AI is being used effectively to counter capacity issues with healthcare professionals. This also isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s a step towards an easier, safer environment for everyone.
In education, technology is providing greater access to knowledge. Online learning is more affordable and more accessible. The internet has opened up these opportunities, which I believe are for the better. Because if you’re prepared to understand, engage with and make use of tech, it can benefit your career.
So perhaps, this Bath Digital Festival, we could all try to be a bit less terrified of tech. Yes, we’ve had scandals and problems, but that doesn’t mean all tech is bad. In fact, the best weapon to fight your fear with is understanding.
Don’t stay in the dark, dare to understand tech a little deeper. You never know, you might find something amazing when you’re more open minded.