If you’ve not yet watched the third season of Black Mirror, put down this magazine and load up Netflix immediately! The British dark satire show touches on various near-future scenarios where technology has infiltrated our lives – nearly always to the detriment of what we might call humanity.
While Star Wars and Firefly are pure fantasy, Black Mirror feels like a genuine - and chilling - glimpse into our future, one where our social media ranking determines whether we get a job, and where the line between virtual reality and the ‘real’ world becomes blurred.
Preserving human interactions in a connected world is something that Mikkel B Rasmussen, a founder at human science consultancy Red Associates, feels strongly about. He believes companies are in danger of what he calls tech blindness.
“The risk for companies is that they copy what others are doing. There are more than eight million apps in the AppStore and many are very similar. How many Tetris games are there? How many personal assistant apps are there? How many social media platforms are there? Because we think anything mobile or digital is new, we think that any idea is new. But if you look at it through a critical lens, there are actually very few new ideas.”
There’s a good example of this happening within Norway right now with the flood of mobile payment apps. DNB’s Vipps, Danske Bank’s MobilePay and Sparebank1’s mCASH all claim to be innovative, when they are all essentially offering the same service. And do they actually make our lives any easier? Paying for your groceries with MobilePay in Rema1000 doesn’t save any time at all over using your debit card and tapping in a PIN – and debit cards never run out of battery. Indeed, Rasmussen believes banking in the broader sense gives a good example of tech blindness.
“Banks across the world are investing heavily in digital technologies while removing the human interface, but humans are still needed to help you plan your financial future, understand your insurance requirements, and most of all to listen. Yet many small towns are now without the physical presence of a bank. When banks start to behave like technology companies, the impact on our society could be massive,” he says.
While Rasmussen accepts that data science has a huge role to play in our connected future, he passionately believes that human science is just as important. “Consider the difference between how a scientist and a poet would describe love. For a human to understand love it must be experienced, not explained,” he says.
“The danger is we end up with a world full of technology but low on human interactions. The question to ask ourselves is, how can we use technology to create meaningful human experiences, rather than just functional ones?”
In collaboration with Tech List