Who is the boss here? 

 1 November 2021

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We are at a historic crossroads. Who will be the boss in the future? The technology or us? Option 1: In the future, we use technology as a tool to solve our social, ecological and everyday challenges. Option 2: We become more and more lulled into filter bubbles optimised by algorithms, allowing ourselves to be influenced by them right down to our worldview and our behaviour, and our data is used for profit through surveillance.

In my impulse lecture "Future Mindset" I recently outlined a day from option 2:

"The smart implant in the back of your right hand wakes you up at the perfect time for your sleep rhythm. Smartphones no longer exist. And unfortunately no snooze function either, the implant forces you to get up. You get ready for the day and get into the back of one of the ever-present autonomous vehicles. The ride is free, but your biometric data is collected via the seat. This data is used to display advertising tailored to you throughout the journey. You don't even have to order, the system automatically recognises your impulse to buy based on your reaction and orders autonomously. Same-day delivery included.

You continue to the beach promenade and meet up with an old friend you haven't seen for a long time. You walk along the promenade and talk about good old times. You notice once again how spotless the paths are here. Not the smallest piece of rubbish is lying around anywhere. No graffiti, no dog poo. But that's no wonder, because the public space is completely monitored by video and any misbehaviour is punished immediately and automatically. You say goodbye to your friend and stroll into the office.

Your smart implant registers that your energy level is not yet high enough to perform well at work today and automatically activates a power playlist with energetic beats. When you arrive at your desk, the time tracking bot begins to measure your time, automatically subtracting breaks and distractions. You suddenly have a strange feeling. You feel so at the mercy of all the things going on here, you can hardly make any decisions yourself and it annoys you that you no longer have any privacy. Of course, your smart implant registers this immediately and changes the playlist to your favourite songs, which distracts you and immediately takes your mind off things.

A short time later, the implant begins to glow red. You tear your eyes away because you know what that means: your social score, your social credit rating, has just dropped so low that you have slipped down a level. That means no more long-distance travel, curfew, restricted account, access restrictions. While you're still sweating over what the reason could be, it's already being transmitted via Messenger: You carelessly ran a red light today. In addition, your emotional and physical behaviour recorded during the promenade - neuroscans, pulse, gestures, facial expressions, walking speed, etc. - gives you an 87 percent probability of committing a crime within the next six months.

If that's the future, I'd like option 1, but much of what I've outlined is already in place today. Whether social scoring, surveillance, priming, advertising algorithms ...

The others will do it

Our dilemma: How can we avoid this? Not much comes from politics, as it is far too busy maintaining the system. And the things they are trying to regulate have no effect on evil and instead impose restrictions on everyone else - the GDPR sends its regards. Corporations also feel more committed to shareholder value than to people - be they customers or employees. That leaves us. Every single one of us. The self-employed. SMEs. Parents. Nerds. Consultants. Employees. Human. Everyone in themselves, at home, in their environment, in the context of their colleagues. Step by step into a positive future.

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