Archive for digital technology

Gen Tech Generation

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 11, 2019 by andelino

Today’s young adults, dubbed “GenTech” generation understand that their “online” lives are valuable and tradable commodities.

As digital technologies facilitate the growth of both new and incumbent organizations, we have started to see the darker sides of the “digital economy” unravel. In recent years, many unethical business practices have been exposed, including the capture and use of consumers’ data, anti-competitive activities and covert social experiments.

But what do young people who grew up with the Internet think about this development? Research with 400 digital natives – 19- to 24-year-olds – shows that this generation, dubbed “GenTech” may be the one to turn the “digital” revolution on its head.

Findings point to a “frustration and disillusionment” with the way organizations have accumulated real-time information about consumers “without their knowledge and often without their explicit consent.”

Many from “GenTech” now understand that their online “lives” are of commercial value to an array of organizations that use this “insight” for the targeting and personalization of products, services and experiences.

This era of accumulation and commercialization of “user data” through real-time monitoring has been coined surveillance capitalism and signifies a new economic system.

A central pillar of the modern “digital” economy is our interaction with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms. A survey found that 47% of GenTech do not want “AI” technology to monitor their “lifestyle, purchases and financial situation” in order to recommend them particular things to buy.

In fact, only 29% see this as a “positive” intervention. Instead, they wish to maintain a sense of “autonomy” in their decision making and have the opportunity to freely “explore” new products, services and experiences.

As individuals living in the “digital age”, we constantly negotiate with technology to let go of or retain control. This pendulum-like effect reflects the ongoing battle between the human and technology.

Research also reveals that 54% of GenTech are very “concerned” about the access organizations have to their “data”, while only 19% were not worried.

Despite the EU General Data Protection Regulation being introduced in May 2018, this is still a major concern – grounded in a belief that too much of their data is in the possession of a small group of global companies, including “Google, Amazon and Facebook.” Some 70% felt this way.

In recent weeks, both Facebook and Google have vowed to make “privacy” a top priority in the way they interact with users. Both companies have faced public outcries for their lack of openness and transparency when it comes to how they “collect and store user data.” It isn’t long ago that a hidden microphone was found in one of Google’s home alarm products.

Google now plans to offer auto-deletion of users’ location history data, browsing and app activity as well as extend its “incognito mode” to Google Maps and search. This will enable users to turn off tracking.

At Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg is keen to reposition the platform as a privacy-focused communications platform, built on principles such as “private interactions, encryption, safety, interoperability, communications across Facebook-owned apps and platforms and secure data storage.”

This will be a tough turn around for the company that is fundamentally dependent on turning “user data” into opportunities for highly “individualized” advertising.

“Privacy and transparency” are critically important themes for organizations today – both for those that have “grown up” online as well as the incumbents.

While GenTech want organizations to be more “transparent and responsible”, 64% also believe that they cannot do much to “keep their data private.” Being tracked and monitored “online” by organizations is seen as part and parcel of being a “digital” consumer.

Despite these views, there is a growing revolt simmering under the surface. GenTech want to take “ownership” of their own data. They see this as a “valuable” commodity, which they should be given the opportunity to “trade” with organizations. Some 50% would willingly share their “data” with companies if they had something in return, for example, a “financial” incentive.

GenTech are looking to enter into a “transactional” relationship with organizations. This reflects a significant change in attitudes from perceiving the free access to digital platforms as the “product” in itself, in exchange for user data, to now wishing to use that data to “trade” for explicit benefits.

This has created an “opportunity” for companies that seek to “empower” consumers and give them back “control” of their data.

Several companies now offer consumers the opportunity to “sell the data” they are comfortable sharing or take part in research which they get “paid” for. More and more companies are joining this space, including People.io, Killi and Ocean Protocol.

Sir Tim Berners Lee, the creator of the world wide web, has also been working on a way to “shift the power” from organizations and institutions back to citizens and consumers. The platform Solid offers users the opportunity to be in charge of where they “store” their data and who can “access” it. It is a form of “re-decentralization.”

The Solid POD (Personal Online Data storage) is a secure place on a hosted server or the individual’s own server. Users can grant “apps access” to their POD as a person’s data is stored centrally and not by an app developer or on an organization’s server. We see this as potentially being a way to let people take back control from technology and other companies.

GenTech have woken up to a reality where a life lived “plugged in” has significant consequences for their individual “privacy”, and are starting to push back, questioning those organizations that have shown “limited” concern and continue to exercise “exploitative” practices.

It’s no wonder that we see these “signs of revolt.” GenTech is the generation with the most to lose. They face a life ahead “intertwined” with digital technology as part of their personal and private lives.

With continued pressure on organizations to become more “transparent”, the time is now for young people to make their move.

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