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Top 10 in tech for the decade (continued)

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 19 December 2019, 7:26 am

Tech has taken on a more dystopian feel this decade. Where once we may have greeted each new idea with wide-eyed enthusiasm, we now consider the downside first. Here is the second half of my top ten in tech for the decade.

6. The rise of AI - in 2016, Google's AI lab DeepMind beat the reigning Go champion, and the world shuddered a little. Is it a sign we are inching closer to towards the singularity - when computers become smarter than humans and we start answering to robots? Sounds like science fiction but real enough to see the late Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk sound the alarm this decade. AI is being blamed for displacing jobs, and reinforcing harmful stereotypes (data in, data out), but like anything in tech what can be bad, can also be good. The idea is to be informed. Where is that national AI strategy the Government has been promising?

7. The speed of connectivity - in 2010 it was hard to believe that by the end of the decade New Zealand would be second only to Japan in fibre broadband adoption. The telcos and lines companies were slugging it out over the Ultra Fast Broadband contracts, while others wondered if anyone would want fibre given Sky TVs' hold over content. Not only is the first phase of UFB now complete, mobile is also evolving, with the move to 5G likely to accelerate following the Government's spectrum announcement this week. The revolution in connectivity has meant massive disruption for local mainstream media, which is struggling to adapt. It has also exasperated the digital divide, as more and more services migrate online.

8. The concern for privacy, part 1 - if you're not paying for the product, then you are the product became a well-worn saying in a decade where people began to wonder about the consequences of giving away their data. And then proceeded to keep giving away their data. The Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, where personal information from 87 million Facebook accounts was sold to influence elections, made #deleteFacebookfashionable for a while. But as the company also has WhatsApp and Instagram in its stable, how easy is it to delete it from your life, especially if you are an artist or businessperson looking for national and international exposure. Or even if you just want to keep track of what your kids are up to.

9. The concern for privacy, part 2 - technology such as IoT is also challenging the right to privacy. Just this week Kāinga Ora has come under scrutiny for an RFP for its Smart Homes project that could see sensors installed in 2000 state houses. While the data collection will apparently be used to help enable healthy homes, there are concerns that not only is it a breach of privacy, it could be used against tenants - for example, as evidence of overcrowding. Another privacy issue even more insidious is the use of DNA, the Law Commission began a study in 2016 on the use of DNA in criminal investigations, which highlights that there appears to be little oversight of what is incredibly personal information. What will happen when the use of DNA technology becomes commonplace in the health sector?

10. The tech that failed to fire - self driving cars (could still happen), Virtual Reality (the idea is appealing, the actual experience not so much), cryptocurrency (in theory, maybe) ... to name just three 'big ideas' in tech that disappointed in this decade.

Roll on 2020.

Check out the first half of 'Top 10 in tech for the decade' here and the discussion on Radio NZ's Nine to Noon show is here.


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