It seems, in this age of post-truth and fake news, the prescient words of Irish American Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and three times US ambassador to the UN, that "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts", are more prevalent than ever. In fact, anyone taking a passing glance at today’s news headlines would be forgiven for believing that "communication propagated by technology" has become the No.1 enemy of western democracies.
Throw into the mix the growing recognition that the algorithms designed to serve us, now box us into a filtered, echo chamber that is the average and somewhat dull, sum of all our opinions, and it’s clear our relationship with technology is under strain. It’s even more concerning when the same algorithms facilitate and influence that most human of all our human instincts, to fall in love, by matching our homogenised profile with the most similar homogenised profile of our ideal partner on online dating platforms.
You could be forgiven for thinking, that at this moment, technology and communications is failing us and what it means to be human is disappearing – one ‘like’ at a time.
So, what do we know to be true?
There is no denying that digital technologies are the new operating system of the world. There’s also no denying that the fuel which drives this operating system is the sum of each of our individual actions across its numerous digital platforms. And there’s no denying that these actions now play a key part in influencing the future direction of our political, economic and creative culture. So, the actions we take in this space, and the choices we make from now on will determine whether our future turns out to be one driven by a dystopian or utopian ideal.
What actions can we take to safeguard our utopian future?
Educate. Develop a critical mindset. A critical awareness of the impact our behaviour has on every algorithm. A recognition that everything we share and like, in every online social interaction, contributes to the prioritisation and visibility of news and views in the wider environment and collectively, this shapes our world. Then, with your actions change it.
Create. Creativity can and does change our world. Let’s smash up a world that’s turned grey with algorithms to explode it with colour. How do we exploit the rise of the Algo-clash, a clash between two or more algorithmic ideas, designed to unlock the inherent creativity of a ‘glitch based aesthetic?’ In the words of freelance journalist, Kyle Chayka “What would be error could be art.”
Regulate. Break up the duopoly. Create a market where genuine, consumer-centric alternatives to the current status quo can flourish. In an online world populated with a multitude of independent, competing digital platforms, the best of these will adapt their offering to meet the needs of the consumer first and gain greater competitive advantage as a result. In a regulated market, start-ups like www.liberdy.com, a decentralised data management platform powered by blockchain, that rewards users for the use advertisers make of their platform, will get the opportunity to truly flourish.
At Huskies, we believe business success in the digital world is driven by a combination of art and science, a combination of creativity and platforms, or ‘magic and machines’ as we like to call it. In a world where the machines serve the wants and needs of the advertiser first, we believe the opportunity to create magic is at risk of being lost forever. But in a world where the machines serve the wants and needs of people first, the magic of creativity will always flourish. And brilliant creativity changes our world for the better.
Jonathan Forrest is CEO at In the Company of Huskies.