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Tug Life III: 10 Highlights from our first roundtable of 2017

by James McAndrew | 17.05.2017

The human relationship with technology has never been more exciting, fraught or all-encompassing as it is today, which is why we have chosen Human vs Machine as the theme for our third installment of Tug Life.

In the lead up to the event, we invited a team of top marketers and entrepreneurs to discuss our evolving reliance on technology – the good, the bad, and the downright scary. These were the top takeouts:

  1. Don’t blame the tech, tech is just the tool. You wouldn’t blame the hammer.

Tech is here to support us in every aspect of our lives and for most part, works incredibly well. As we’ve become more reliant on it, we’ve become more frustrated when services are down or tech faults. We have no patience for tech that breaks down.

2. The need for feed is real, and companies like Facebook know they are addictive – by design

Social media is incredibly addictive. Its advanced algorithms are constantly changed and tweaked to show us exactly what we want to see at all times. And if we don’t check in several times a day we become consumed by the fear of missing out on some crucial information.

3. We prefer machines to be personified.

With Amazon’s Alexa we refer to the device as a ‘she’, with reviews for the product left in her name and for her. Are we reviewing the machine or the person? The distance between human and machine is evidently becoming much closer.

  1. The rise of voice interaction spells a decrease in dwell times because you don’t need to spend time on the screen – you just say “where am i going next and how am i going to get there”

Sites and services will have to change the way ads and products are served to consumers. In time our voices – not our thumbs – will be key to making online purchases as well as web browsing.

  1. We are definitely in the infancy in being able to use data effectively, partly because of the unpredictability of humanity which is a great thing and partly because there’s just so much of it.

Facebook now has almost a quarter of the planet using its services, with 1.94bn users now signed up. To put that in perspective, there’s currently 3.6bn people in the world with access to internet. The sheer amount of data collected from our use of the site is on a scale never before seen for mankind. With so much data, comes a great deal of power and influence – greater than any government.

  1. We only really need to turn up to work as a vehicle for our brains… Companies in the future will want the best from our brains and they will give us the best environment to achieve this.

Our workspaces are becoming increasingly dynamic to get the best from our brains and companies who can grasp this best, will excell. Google are perhaps the most famous example of this. Employees are treated to pool tables, gym memberships and the latest in technology – there’s even a chief happiness officer whose job is to maintain high morale and assist with productivity.

  1. Radio was supposed to be bad for people, cinema was supposed to be bad for people, any new technology that comes along is supposed to be bad for us – but we’ve survived, got through and we still manage. My major worry at the moment is not any form of tech in particular, but the invasive nature of technology and the wealth of personal data it can collect.

Our lives are intertwined with technology more and more. Our smartphones (which include a GPS tracker) travel with us everywhere, get us from A to B and deliver our most important pieces of information each and every day. We’ve become so reliant on pieces of technology, we’ve forgotten the dangers that these machines possess knowing so much of our personal information.

  1. Just because the technology exists doesn’t mean we have to use it, it doesn’t mean that the people use it either. There’s an exercise that needs to take place that separates the tools from the imperfections.

There’s a tendency for marketers to want to jump on the next big thing in technology bandwagon – and sometimes this can be a good thing, and lead to true innovation. But most of the time it leads to the creation of something which no one is going to use. New technology is never a reason to ignore human behavioural insight.

  1. It’s a fact that technology once had to try and find its place in the world; we now have to find our place in a world of technology. I think it’s a question of making it work with us – who’s working for whom is the question here.

We are the creators of technology, but now revolve our lives around it rather than the other way around. Perhaps working alongside technology is the future, rather than one trying to control the other.

  1. Voice recognition has improved more in the last two years than it has in the last 15. I think the acceleration is a real concern because there’s no checks and balances on this.

Without checks and balances in place for this industry, we simply don’t know the extent to which our voices and conversations are being monitored and tracked. Over on our blog we took a closer look at the rise of intelligent, smart assistants with the release of Samsung’s Bixby. Earlier this year our Media Strategist Aisling Cahill discussed why AI is the real future for brand marketing with Digital Media Magazine.

Free tickets are now available here for Tug Life III: Human vs. Machine, join our Facebook event to stay up to date with all the latest Tug Life news before kick-off.

More recap of Tug Life:

Tug Life II, Day 3: ‘Retail sees its future in good deeds and death metal’

Tug Life II, Day 2: ‘A flood of data and a fickle market – insights and challenges of modern consumers’

Tug Life II, Day 1: “Digital has made us mental”

Tug Life: How digital media is driving real-life behaviour