Guest post by The Futures Agency content curator Petervan
Remember when the world's most famous brand catchcry was ‘Just Do It' from Nike? Those days are over. In 2019, brands aren't interested in encouraging you to do anything – they are vying to do it for you. In fact, Google has just released a new promotional video emblazoned with the slogan ‘Make Google Do it'.
We are increasingly outsourcing (or shall I say ‘abdicating') responsibilities that used to be our own and offloading them to technology. Will it rain, and should I take an umbrella? Google Assistant will tell you. How many eggs do I need for this cake? Google Assistant will tell you. When did I last visit the dentist? Google Assistant will tell you that, too.
Take a look at this Google Assistant promotional video (I don't know whether to laugh or to cry):
A few questions came to mind when I was watching this video.
- Can 3rd parties buy a ‘preferred mention' here – like they do in Google Search?
- How easy would it be to use this technology as a surveillance tool?
- Will we end up putting convenience over consciousness, once again (think Facebook)?
- If this becomes the new normal, would we still want to be free to make decisions that are not based on machine logic or super-smart algorithms?
- Would we still know how to do these things ourselves if our smart assistant takes care of it all the time?
- Will we still be allowed to do those stupidly human things such as drive too fast, drink too much, or eat the wrong food?
The video incites awe and excitement, sure – but there is also an element of revulsion. Some would call this ‘heavenly convenience', and we understand that. But we tend to think of this as an ‘abdication engine', a handy tool to train us to sleepwalk through digital life.
Abdication is one of the 5A’s in Gerd’s book Technology vs Humanity, chapter 4, entitled “Automating Society: Automation, Assentation, Abdication, Aggravation, and Abomination.”
Beware machine thinking and reductionism!
We recently recorded a podcast on Chapter 4 in Technology vs. Humanity – here's the link.