Please, tech giants … take over my life

Monica Wilkie

14 December 2018 | Ideas@TheCentre

The ACCC this week released an alarming report into tech companies and digital giants, recommending greater regulation for companies such as Facebook and Google — deemed to be basically public utilities operated by private players (94% of all internet searches in Australia go through Google).

But what if instead of trying to regulate our digital overlords, we used their monopoly control to finally find a way to project-manage our hopelessly disorganised lives?

They already know everything about us and use this information to position ads they believe we will like. We all complain about ads — but perhaps we need a rethink.

How much time do we waste on making decisions? From what we’ll have for lunch to whether we should wed Cecil in Accounts …let’s outsource those decisions.

Instead of merely making suggestions, online ads should take action based on their superior understanding of our wants and needs.

Instead of recommending you have Uber Eats deliver you that delicious burger from your favourite restaurant, the ad pops up and tells you it’s on its way. That’s lunch sorted.

Have to attend a wedding? No need to spend hours searching for the perfect outfit — Facebook has trawled through all the images where you felt well-dressed enough to proudly post them to the world… and made your choice. Watch for the parcel in 3-5 business days.

Tired of looking for ‘the one’? Tinder just matched you with Jeff and you are meeting for coffee tomorrow at 3pm. The church is booked for next month.

Is your current job perhaps not the best fit? LinkedIn has found the perfect role and you start Monday. It has also produced a (polite) resignation letter and mailed it to your boss, organised a farewell party and sent your office manager a giant card to circulate for signatures.

And a gift whose lavishness has been precisely calculated by an algorithm combing the combined salaries of your co-workers — and deducting percentages depending on comments their eavesdropping devices have reported to Lord Zuckerberg (all genuflect at his name).

There is a somewhat counterintuitive notion in spelunking. Sometimes to get out of a cave, rather than climbing up, you must overcome all your instincts and fears and climb deeper down into the darkness to escape.

We are already deep in the cave with these digital behemoths and the light is but a dim, distant memory. Let’s keep climbing down — it’s the only way.

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