You Have an iPhone Now - Do As You’re Told

| Particle Debris

So many inexperienced Internet users nowadays are willing to accept what the computer serves up. It all started at the motor vehicle departments in the 1990s when the clerk said, "I don't care what you say. This is the what the computer says. It can't be wrong."

Things have evolved from there. For example, "Teens can't tell the difference between Google ads and search results." And now, Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella believes: "Smart agents like Cortana will replace the web browser." This is all part of an effect that I've written about before, namely, the Internet doesn't teach its users how to use the Internet.

By that I mean that people who get a good education and learn the meta information about how the Internet works are better prepared to evaluate what they read and watch on the Internet. On the other hand, if one has bypassed or never been engaged in a classic education that involves history, logic, philosophy, mathematics and science, then the Internet and all its voices merge into a giant, influential, dictatorial body of knowledge - or myth - or fashion - or dogma.

Back to Mr. Nadella's thesis. An intelligent agent can quickly learn what your habits and interests are. That can lead to pigeon-holing the reader into ignorance, bias or worse: the embrace of demagoguery. It all starts out with an innocent dependency on the fulfillment of temporary needs. Here's what CEO Nadella said:

It's still browsing, but it's different because you're not invoking every app, Nadella said. Instead, if someone asks "do I need to bring an umbrella today?" it will be the agent who knows your location and can look up the weather to see if it's raining and say yes or no.

This raises so many questions:

  • Why are tech giants so interested in providing customers with software that provides guidance?
  • Do they have so little insight into how responsible adults make decisions?
  • Are those responsible decisions an irritant?
  • What happens to those people from whom the guidance is temporarily disrupted and removed?
  • What are the dangers in letting machines make decisions for us about what coat to wear or where to eat? Or which smartphone to buy?
  • Does that, eventually, lead to a dependency on the machine to guide one about what job to take or which candidate is best for the U.S. presidency?

An obsessive prying into customer habits and preferences with information then sent back to the mothership by every app, in turn, translates into the corporate temptation to make money by leveraging that information into what appears to be helpful guidance. However, as we'll see on page two below, if the customer starts to act up or bypass the guidance, they may well be punished by withholding of critical services.

Punished.

The danger here is that it'll become increasingly rare for people to make decisions based on their own common sense and values. Instead, they'll go running to their smartphone, begging for its guidance, or the guidance of those on social media, as to what to eat, what to wear, what to think and how to act. Or who to love. And who to hate.

It's not hard to imagine where it goes from there.

Next page: the tech news debris for the week of November 16.  You were bad and will be punished.

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Comments

geoduck

This raises so many questions:

Why are tech giants so interested in providing customers with software that provides guidance? Do they have so little insight into how responsible adults make decisions?

Perhaps the number of responsible adults that know how to make a decision is dwindling

Are those responsible decisions an irritant?

If by that you mean when the machine decided it knows what I want to find or watch or say ... yes. See: Autocorrect/Autocomplete

What happens to those people from whom the guidance is temporarily disrupted and removed?

Any idea what happened when Sany hit New York? Serious question as I’m across the continent and don’t know the story. I do suspect that the dependancy is far worse now though.

What are the dangers in letting machines make decisions for us about what coat to wear or where to eat? Or which smartphone to buy?

Or letting the media in other forms dictate fashion or attitudes. Not sure if this is a new thing or just the latest escelation of the media hype yougottabuythis yougottaseethatmovie yougottahatethosepeople treadmill that I’ve seen for a few decades.

Does that, eventually, lead to a dependency on the machine to guide one about what job to take or which candidate is best for the U.S. presidency?

Bingo.

d'monder

The danger here is that it’ll become increasingly rare for people to make decisions based on their own common sense and values.

Everyday example: when you see a car alongside the road with a flat tire, with four people standing around on their cell phones trying to figure out what to do.

Once upon a time you just got to a safe spot, pulled out the jack and changed it. smile

geoduck

What are the dangers in letting machines make decisions for us?

There’s a story, possibly apocryphal, that the insurance industry had to create a new code for accidents caused when the in-car navigation system told the driver to turn and they turned RIGHT THEN, not at the corner.

Lee Dronick

Back in my day we got advice on food and what to wear from magazine and newspaper articles. Not much has changed, just the delivery method.

Paul Goodwin

Teens not knowing the difference between ads and a Google search is bad, but not near as bad as the use of the Internet to stir radical politics and religion. There’s way too big a percentage of people that can’t tell truth from distortion or outright lies. I’m sure the same people never understood not to believe “half of what you read, and none of what you hear” in the pre-Internet era, but we’ve graduated to a new level of non-thinking. The internet has brought things to the point where even the once at least semi-dependable sources will now repeat nonsense just because it appears in so many places. It causes so much polarization, and mostly by people who haven’t a clue about the truth.

aardman

C’mon Mr. M, call it what it is.  What you call a ‘classic’ education is that old familiar,  much maligned (not by you, though), economically useless, liberal arts education. 

Seriously, I’m happy to see a tech writer who professes that man cannot live by technology alone.

Lee Dronick

Breaking news.

A man took a samurai sword into the 5th Avenue Apple Store in New York City. It ended well with no one hurt.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/man-waves-samurai-sword-apple-store-article-1.2442053

txaggie90

@Lee
Was The Bride nearby?  On a more serious note, glad no on was hurt.

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