Technology’s Impact This Week: 17th September


This is the fourth of a possibly more regular commentary on the impact that information technology is having on society, based on recent developments. This post is based on items posted in my Twitter feed: @impactofinfo  Comments on its value and on how it might be improved are welcome to pdcarr@uwaterloo.ca

The impact of information technology on many workplaces was widely discussed this week. Agriculture is a sector that has seen significant change already and much more is anticipated. This week we heard how drones, robotic sprayers and much more were impacting farming.

We also learned about how data, artificial intelligence and the internet of things are impacting manufacturing in a post from the McKinsey organisation. They provided some tips on how these technologies might be effectively applied.

Meanwhile the impact of technology on people at work continued to be an area of concern. New research appeared on how workers are being affected.  Collaboration between robots and workers at Amazon was described.

Nervousness about the power of large technology companies appears to be increasing. In both the US and the European community, measures to limit their freedom and control their impact were being debated. Washington was looking at tighter regulation of Facebook and Google, influenced by Russian influence in the presidential election. Steve case agued that the tech firms face a growing backlash about their failure to invest in middle America and Franklin Foer expressed concern in a new book.

Europe were discussing how the tech firms could pay more tax and pressured them to cull more illegal content. Internet political censorship continues to be discussed. Russia’s new theory of war was articulated – based on information technology. A new Twitter bot strategy was described.

Facebook announced plans to hunt for AI talent in Canada – the latest in a growing list of companies that are doing this.

Cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin) have attracted increasing attention with mining of bitcoins in China being detailed and a cautionary tale of the Dogecoin, which was created as a joke and attracted real investors. A local currency in Liverpool attracted attention – it was designed to spur local economic development, while caution about the digitisation of payments was urged.

The suburbs of the future are well described in an article that appeared this week. The impact that technology will have on suburban development is a very good example of how the world will change for many people in the not too distant future. Some Amish communities have started using cellphones and computers.

The UN released a new report this week that draws attention to the digital divide between developed and developing nations. This has been a concern for some years and this concern is continuing. Varying connection speeds and access to technology are argued to be hampering the benefits that developing countries gain. Advice was also provided on how data can be used to promote inclusive activity in organisations.

 Interesting items also appeared on the use of information technology in the horseracing world, the re-emergence of concerns about clowns in Australia and the website Mumsnet were alarmed by the increasing incidence of foul language in their discussion forums.  The promotion of products by celebrities in their social media feeds – which can allow them to make substantial sums of money.

Useful advice was provided on exploring cities using your smartphone. Happy travels.

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