Ihave two children, aged one and three, and in my gloomier moments wonder what it might mean for them to inherit a world where follows on Facebook determine whether you get a loan or a job; where AI tracks you throughout your life, monitoring, processing and re-selling every move you make. These algorithms are now part of our social fabric, and the values, rights and freedoms they encode are as consequential as our laws: they are starting to define who you are.
When was the last time you went a day, or even a few hours, without looking at your phone? For many of us, our phone is the first thing we touch when we wake in the morning and the last thing we touch at night: a device without which we feel anxious and incomplete.
We live in an age of extraordinary intimacy with technology, yet are only just starting to face up to the consequence: that no clear line now divides the “virtual” from the real, nor our online identities from our self-perceptions.
How do you feel secure in a world like this? Consider the ransomware that recently paralysed the NHS. It may have been a cyber attack, but there was nothing abstract about its consequences: operations delayed, hospital admissions frozen and countless lives put at risk.
Data and privacy are now everybody’s business, together with trolling, fake news and the gamut of digital diseases that make headlines each week. Why? Because the fabric of our selves is turning digital – and our thriving is reliant upon that fabric remaining free from subversion.
If there’s one piece of advice I hope my children will embrace in the years to come, it’s this: the more frantic the world gets, the more it matters to slow down and think twice. Don’t let the unseen systems that shape your life go unexamined. Don’t let someone else’s default settings define who you are.
Dr Tom Chatfield is a British author, broadcaster and tech philosopher
Security in the open economy
Technology has redefined everything we know, from the way we communicate to the way we do business.
In a world that is now built on mobility and openness, Samsung Knox provides all the tools you need to stay safe and secure.