Articles

The future of children, technology, and privacy with Nikolas Badminton, Futurist Speaker


Thank you, David, thank you. You can all hear me OK, yes? Yeah? Three people can hear me. Great! OK. Perfect. Sorry, this. Right, so it’s fantastic
to be down here at Google and Googleplex. Thank you, David and the 3Q team, been working with Kristen and the team, and they’ve putting together some really thoughtful sessions today. And I thought, ah, you
know, I did a presentation that was a little bit dark
and a little bit about how the internet’s kind
of taking over our lives. And I was chatting to
David and it was, oh, how can we evolve that? How do we make it shorter? I normally talk for one
to two hours typically, I do workshops on this
stuff, I’ve got 30 minutes, this is pretty dense. So, I hope you’re caffeinated. But really this presentation
is called ‘The Kids Are Alright’. But are the kids OK? In my role as a Futurist, I
like to ask the big questions. I’m curious about how
the world’s changing. Funnily enough, I actually
worked for a company that was spun out of SGI in Silicon Valley 20 plus years ago called E.piphany, the dot was super important
back in the early 2000s when you worked in San Mateo. But, I worked in a
lot of big data systems and then eventually worked in agencies and doing social media and data analytics and a number of different things, and it’s interesting the way that the world has changed
over the last few years. So, I’m gonna start off
by just saying, you know, taking a look at how the world’s changed. And really I’m gonna start off by looking at capitalism and influence. Now, since the early
days of the 19th century, we’ve seen a huge amount of
influence coming into our lives, capitalism was pretty much born. And I’ve got these four images here. So, top left. That’s the Torches of Freedom. Edward Bernays, who’s Freud’s nephew, basically invented the whole world of public relations and publicity and helped to boost
capitalism in the early days. And he persuaded the
suffragettes to smoke cigarettes in the Easter Day Parade in 1914. And walk along holding those
cigarettes above their heads as Torches of Freedom. And he actually drove about
4% penetration of smoking in women in the U.S. up to
about 33% in about 15 years. And just next to that,
who remembers pretending to smoke cigarettes
using candy cigarettes? Yeah? It’s insane. To think that we did, insane. But it was fine, you know. That was from the 50s. They’re actually branded, like Marlboro had its own
brand of candy cigarettes and Lucky had its own
brand of candy cigarettes and it was like, I can be just like dad. Yeah, that’s not so good. I’ll bet they weren’t saying
that about 40 years later when dad was lying in the
hospital, unfortunately. But then TV dinners. How do you plug people
into advertising more? Well, you remove them
from a family dynamic, which is the family dinner table, and you put these convenient
family dinners in their laps, and then you all sit
there watching the TV, Mary Tyler Moore show or whatever. Right? And then moved into the 70s
and 80s, the Happy Meals. You have to collect them
all, you have to come back. You have to consume the media
that people like McDonald’s and fast food, and other people, then MTV, and then all these other people. And capitalism has been a cavalcade; it’s sort of been
running away with itself. And we’ve been willing participants. And this presentation is about
being a willing participant, but it’s also about becoming
a very careful and considerate person that gets involved
with these kinds of things. But let’s go back to the internet. The early version of
the internet was this. It was very much, this is the ARPANET, it was very much about resiliency
in light of nuclear war. So if you knocked out a node because a particular area
in Utah got taken out, then you can still get from East to West when those communications,
being military or whatever, could actually be maintained. And then here, down in
the Valley, at Stanford, this guy gave a presentation
in 1968, so 50 years ago. He gave a presentation on the world’s first, personal computer. He got the mouse and the track pad. He had hyperlinking and documentation. He had desktop publishing. It was a two day presentation
to about 1,000 people. It’s called The Mother of All Demos, and you can go to YouTube
and you can see that there. It’s fascinating. And there were a lot of
people that were saying, oh, we’re never gonna have people having computers in their homes. I think that’s ridiculous. And now we’ve got a situation where everyone’s got computers
in their pockets, right? Six billion people have actually got access to mobile technology today. Six billion people. That’s more people than have got access to clean, running water in the world. Let’s think about that;
what’s more important? And that’ll be six billion people by 2020 that’ve got
smartphones in their pockets. That means that they can do anything, from watching entertainment
to running businesses, to completely revolutionizing
every part of the world. Whilst we don’t have everyone
on the internet right now, in the future, the proliferation
of this mobile technology will be able to connect
everyone, everywhere, and all sorts of connectivity’s
gonna come to the world with satellite meshes
and Lune and whatever hitting more remote places in the world. It’s an exciting time. But back in 1993, there really
wasn’t that many websites. And the internet was just starting. In 1993, when I got onto the
internet for the first time, I did applied psychology
and computing at university to look at human computer interaction, artificial intelligence, linguistics. I thought it was super interesting. I didn’t realize that 25 years later I’d still be talking about it. But I’m glad that I am. But I first went onto
the internet in 1993. And I sat down in front
of a big, green screen, on a Sun Microsystems computer. And I dialed into a Norwegian university, and I browsed their library catalog. Wasn’t that sexy? Within two years, three years, you had bands like Massive Attack and Radiohead doing amazing things, you had all these websites, and all the tech companies
were putting together, you know the GIF-based websites? Remember those? I used to build them back in the day. I used to build websites using GeoCities. Do you remember GeoCities? It’s a bit of a walk down memory lane. But I’m gonna talk about this guy. Does anyone know who this is? This is Josh Harris. Josh Harris was one of
the first innovators around internet analysis and looking at what’s
happening in the world, and also about media. And Josh Harris is a man that sort of really pushed the limits about thinking about what
the internet will be. And a filmmaker called Ondi Timoner made a movie called We Live in Public. And here’s the trailer from that movie. (ominous chords) – [Voiceover] The internet’s
like this new human experience. At first, everybody’s gonna like it. But there will be a fundamental change in the human condition. One day we’re all gonna wake up and realize that we’re just circuits. It’s captured us. (uptempo music) – It was genius because
nobody had done it yet. – He was saying, “This is
the way it’s gonna be.” And he was right. I mean, he was right. – He was selling a company
for a couple million dollars while we were all a bunch of kids getting paid $10 an hour
trying to figure out HTML. – [Voiceover] Josh was one
of these incredible new idols everybody had suddenly wanted to be. – I’m in a race to take
CBS out of business. – [Voiceover] He was always trying to advance the inevitable. This is gonna happen; let’s try it now. – [Another Voiceover] It
is our function as artists to make the spectator
see the world our way. – [Josh] People want 15
minutes of fame everyday. So we built the bunker
and showed ’em the future. ♪ I’m an alligator ♪ ♪ I’m a mama-papa coming for you ♪ We’re gonna record
Stasi-type intelligence. – And the cameras were everywhere. There’s cameras set up in
the showers and the toilets. – Is there anything graphic on the TV? – [Voiceover] They’re eating and shitting and having sex in public,
and people ate it up. ♪ Keep your electric eye on me, babe ♪ – This was one of the most
extraordinary activities I’ve ever attended anywhere in the world. Really the question starts to become who is behind this? What’s going on? – I’ve joined a cult. – Everything is free, except the video that we capture of you. That, we own. – 1994, ’95. The early ideas around
always-on video content. You know, the idea of flogging,
the idea of surveillance, in a way, the idea of uploading content that you own to make money from that. It’s really interesting. Go watch that movie, We Live in Public. But really, this is what
the internet is today. It’s a bunch of cables
underneath the ocean and then running across continents. We sometimes forget that the
internet is actually pipework, right? It’s pretty simple, about
six companies actually own the rights to run
those cables under the sea and operate this infrastructure. But this is what’s binding
the world together. And the next evolution of it is to actually take it
into a satellite-based, mesh networks, and whatever, and I think it’s a very exciting
time to connect the world, but why do we connect the world? Well, there’s been some
really interesting phenomena since the beginning of the internet. This is what I like to
call what true freedom and democracy looks like today. True freedom and democracy,
it looks like cats. We’ve got some of the
most powerful devices we’ve ever had in our pockets, and these things are what we
spend most of our time on. Thumb tribes. Do you remember the
story about Justin Bieber going to Central Park in New York City? And he was walking around, and
the kids just left him alone. Didn’t even notice he was there ’cause they were all
playing Pokemon Go, right? Heads down. Smombies; this is actually a real word. Smartphone-zombies, right? We know this. A lot of people are
gonna say, it’s the kids. It’s not the kids, it’s everyone. And I’m as guilty as anyone else, right? Then there’s smombie safety. In the Netherlands they’ve actually had to build these sidewalks. What they were finding
was that kids were trying to cross the roads, but they
weren’t picking their heads up. And they were getting run over. They were either getting
injured or killed. So what they decided to do was actually put the traffic lights into the pavement. See that at the bottom? Green and red and whatever. That’s pretty fascinating as a phenomenon. And then Kylie Jenner
knocked a few billion dollars worth of value off of
Snap a few weeks ago. A tweet from an influencer
affects the stock market. And then everyone said,
we hate the new Snapchat. And then over 1.2 million people went and rallied against it. We’ve never had this kind of
weird activism in our lives. The internet’s kind of
given people a power. An anonymous power that
they’re sort of flexing. Unfortunately, that anonymous power extends its way into news. And we know that there’s a huge problem with the idea of fake news or mis-truths that are actually spread
virally through the internet. And this graph, literally
from Don’t Read This to Just No, Seriously, Don’t Read This to the people that I personally trust like The Atlantic and
The Wall Street Journal and The Hill, Vox, whoever. This is all been exasperated
by how the internet’s working but also how social
media is working as well. And I’ve been a big
proponent for social media for a long, long time. I think I’ve still got
about four Myspace pages for different music projects around. I think Justin Timberlake
still owns that, right? Well, I think it’s really interesting to start with a quote
from Father John Culkin, who actually worked with
Marshall McLuhan in Toronto on a lot of communications theory, right? ‘Member “The medium is the message?” Father John worked with him. And he was in the clergy. “We shape our tools and
therefore our tools shape us.” When we build the internet,
it influences culture. We build social media,
it influences culture. And we’re willing participants. So, I looked around for a
bunch of different studies. How long do we really
spend in our lifetime on the internet and on social media? So, five years, over
five years of our lives will be spent in social media. That’s more than we spend eating. More than we spend socializing,
actually face to face by a huge number. Nearly three times the amount. And I’m not to sad about laundry only taking 6 months out of my life. I’d like remove that down to
almost no time out of my life. However, I still have to do that. We’re kind of in this culture where it’s like, platforms are great. They’re offering all of this value to us, and we’re kind of like,
well, let’s not complain, let’s not see the bad things. And if we do see the bad
things, let’s not talk about it. Let’s not listen to the detractors. Let’s not even take
advice from each other. Let’s just jump in. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This presentation isn’t
about not participating and stepping away. It’s about being a lot more aware. And this is driving a lot of the behavior. I’m worried that I’m going to miss out. I was having a conversation
with someone earlier, and I switched off my
Instagram account the other day because it wasn’t driving me
any business; that’s my focus. I’ve still got a Facebook account. I’ve got a thousand friends. I don’t follow a single friend. I don’t hardly post
anything at all to there. And it’s really interesting, once you actually take the power away from the machine that needs to be fed, then it’s kind of a
useful platform for like, events and messaging and whatever. And I’m aware about that. So, let’s talk about Facebook. We know recently there’s been a lot of challenges from the senate, right? About what Facebook can be. And it’s quite interesting
how it’s evolved. It went from like, the poke, poking. You remember poking? I don’t think it even exists anymore. Poking to the like button. And then from the like button to this representation of modern life. So, if you look at this, and
not many people realize this, if you read this from left to right, this is like a relationship
with a loved one. You like them, you love
them, you laugh with them, wow, you did what? I’m really sad, and now I’m super angry. And then you leave that relationship, and then you find someone new. Oh, I like you, I love you, ha ha. When someone pointed
this out to me it’s like, this is purposefully
designed to mimic life. And that’s what a lot of these
networks are trying to do. We know the Cambridge Analytica study. We know the, if you can know 300 likes of a certain individual on Facebook, you know them about as
well as their spouse. This is a worry. I’m not really gonna talk about what Cambridge Analytica did. This is from the University of Cambridge. Cambridge Analytica obviously then used this kind of knowledge to take us further. And there’s about 100
different vertases of analysis that you can take in Facebook, and it’s getting bigger and bigger because as you get data, and it’s growing, and you’ve got lots of
different perspectives on what someone likes and
posts and talks about, then you have infinite value. Now, data is the new oil is like, what a lot of futurists
walk around saying, but we’re actually
growing from a point where data’s growing from 4.4
zettabytes a year today to about 163 zettabytes a year by 2025. Our systems grow out as we use data more. Self-driving vehicles hit the roads, more cameras hit the roads,
the internet of things. We’re gonna be in a world that’s
not only surround by data, but we will be the data
within that system. This is kind of, I was
watching FA this week, this kind of brought
me back to this study. Facebook Tinkers With Users’
Emotions in Newfeed Experiment. Oh, there’s outcry on the streets, and people are really upset,
and this is back in 2014. And then they really tinker with people emotions with Facebook data. Right? They wiped five billion dollars off of the market value of the
company that owns Match.com. In like, an hour. The power of that company. It’s makes me wonder
what’s going on in life. You know, what are we doing? What are we choosing
to put into the system? What level of participation
are we choosing to have? How are we letting our kids and our loved ones get involved in this? And once they’re involved,
how do we interact with them? But really, I think the
revolutions are happening in China. Does anyone use WeChat in the room? Yeah? Yeah? If this was China, everyone
would be using WeChat. So, what’s really interesting,
a billion monthly users. So sure, it’s not as powerful as Facebook, but look at the potential of China. 800 million use WeChat Pay across 13 currencies in 25 countries. You can even pay with
crypto in there as well. So this power base is actually growing out in the app ecosystem. In fact, this is what’s
bundled into WeChat, and it’s getting bigger everyday. Messaging, social connections, mini-programs and applications and games, wallets and payments,
personal wealth funds in what’s ostensibly a social network. E-Commerce, credit scores. This is all the stuff
that Facebook’s kind of failed to make stick in the West, right? But in China, everyone’s on board. Because it jumped over legacy systems that were there in place. So that brings me back
to think about families. And this is, if you’ve got children, this is probably gonna be
one of the most harrowing five minutes of your day. I do apologize for that. But I’d like you to really revel in feeling uncomfortable about this stuff because I think it’s important
to feel uncomfortable. So, I’ve already talked about
the rise of the smartphone. Right? How many people in the room have got kids? How many people? Keep your hands up. How many people in the
room, put your hands down if you don’t give your kids devices. Right? It’s almost like 100% penetration. You’ve got kids, give them
devices, it can be quite useful. It can. But there’s a worry. It’s even more worrying
that you can get your baby Baby’s First Smartphone. This is a real product. It’s shocking. And it shocks me even
more when you see babies with real smartphones as well. Really, really worrying to me. So, around about the age of 10, children get their first smartphones. In fact, some kids are getting
their first smartphones around the age of seven. Unfortunately, we’re in a world where pornography consumption
begins at 8 years old and addiction begins at 11. Yeah, what? It’s true. Sexting begins in the fifth grade. Most of the traffic,
certainly in North America, is actually from pornography websites. Unfortunately, there’s very few checks and balances on what kids can access. And sure, you can go into your devices, but there’s always ways around. Hands up, who was sort of an ingenious kid when they were growing up, right? We’re all smart people, right? You can always break in, steal
your mother’s cigarettes, go for a cigarette out the
back at the age of 12, right? Did anyone else do that? Sorry, mum. But it gets really worrying. So, the frontal cortex
doesn’t stop developing until your early 20s. So don’t be surprised, if you’re
one of the people with kids or you’ve got people in
your family that’ve got kids and you see them
struggling with compliance to requests from parents
or going to bed early or whatever or they’ve
got bags under their eyes and they’ve got a lack of impulse control, it means that their frontal
cortex is being affected by the screens that they’re looking at and the mechanisms for
driving dopamine hits through social media networks,
videos, and the such like. That impulse control is a real problem. And in fact, in South Korea, they’ve actually had to build centers ’cause South Korean kids use more devices and more screens than anyone else. And they’ve actually got a
form of digital dementia. About the age of 18 and 19,
some of the worst users, they’re having to go through therapy to re-condition those kids. What’s happening with kids
as well is really worrying. So when they’re really young,
and they turn up at school, they’re actually finding,
this is a study from the U.K., that kids are turning up at school and can’t actually hold pencils. They’re used to swiping
left and right and touching. They haven’t developed
any level of wanting to draw with crayons
or anything like that. “Patrick was given therapy sessions “because he was gripping his pencil “like a caveman held sticks “instead of the correct tripod grip.” And this is from the
National Health Service, one of the chief pediatric
sort of therapists. And these kids are
having to go into therapy to re-condition their muscles so they can even begin to pick up a pencil to start their education. It’s worrying, right? Let’s slap VR on kids’ faces. It seems like the classroom has become sort of this new
bastion of new technology. It’s like, this is great for education. And sure, some of it is. I think VR is an amazing thing, immersion. But this just gets kids more screen time. And then you’ve got kids in Japan, some of the shyest kids
are being helped by Pepper, the robot from SoftBank. Non-human interactions and
then a dependency, potentially, of people that need to have
friends that are robots. And in Australia, they’re
using avatars for teachers that are just as effective as teachers, and artificial intelligence
is going into online forums, and being just as effective, and people can’t tell them apart from normal, human teachers. So, where are we going with actually indoctrinating our kids
into this new world? We’re creating a new normal for them, and that new normal is
something that they want to subscribe to and spend
most of their time on it. And it’s like, hey mom, it’s fine. I’m learning. And there’s a real worry. But we also know that
people are scared of robots, and kids might actually,
there’s actually some stories, some of these robots go into classrooms, and the kids like, you know,
obviously there’s some kids, they go and they push the robot over, they draw on them, they kick them, right? So some researchers have built this robot; it’s called Shelley. It’s a little turtle. And if you hit it, its head disappears in, just like a real turtle. But if you love it and you stroke it, it shines with bright colors and makes purring sounds like a kitten. We’re trying to teach kids
to love robotics and robots. Because they’re gonna be
everywhere in this world. (little girl cooing) – I love you, robot. I love you, robot. – That kid’s about, what, 18 months old? That’s not a robot. So, even at an early age, these kids are starting realize that, oh, you know, I for one
welcome our robot overlords. It’s like, what did you just say? Where’s my iPad? But then I like to think about
what I call kid economics. It’s never been easy to
persuade kids to do things like mowing the lawn,
taking out the trash, doing their homework. I mean, this is kind of my biography. I was a terrible kid. But now we’ve got platforms. ChoreMonster can reward your kids for doing the chores
that you need them to do, and parents can look at what’s happening, and we can track the goodness
of our family through digital. Does anyone use Sweatcoin? Someone came up to me in Toronto after an event that I ran there, and they said, oh, have you seen this? My kids will use this at lunch
times and at break times, they run around the
playground as fast as they can so they can earn Sweatcoin. This isn’t like a cryptocurrency. This is actually, it just creates tokens, and they can buy things online. But what’s happening
with that data, right? And in New Zealand, this is kinda cool, it’s called Magical Park,
and you run around parks and you create this wonderland. And kids are finding
that they’re running for about 30 minutes with these
augmented reality apps. Wait a minute, you don’t
look around and enjoy time with your friends, you’re
running around with an iPad, but it’s kind of a cool idea, right? Unfortunately, we’ve got a situation of identifiers and imported code. So, hardware devices have got addresses. Cloud services have got locations. They may change often. And then you’ve got applications
which have got terms and conditions and ways of storing data. Those identifiers could
carry on and carry on, and people can know where your kids run. The imported code is
generally not checked, it was found in a number of
different studies by the FTC, and by the Washington Post, that people don’t check the imported code that advertisers give to app developers. And they say, oh yeah, we’ll just copy and paste it in, it’ll be fine. And we just write the
terms and conditions, hey, you know, we might
advertise to your kids. Unfortunately, out of 5,000 apps, there was under half of the apps with very clear terms and conditions. Those terms and conditions,
and the lack thereof, has meant that we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security
that our kids are safe. It’s not, everyone’s
selling data to everyone. A message for parents and teachers. You have to teach and encourage boundaries of fair usage, responsible use
of devices and social media. And there’s a hierarchy
of compliance, right? Cloud services, hardware
devices, platforms. Then I think we’re walking
through a really strange world. Clarity of vision. Do you remember when
baby monitors were hacked and put on the internet a few
years ago by a Russian guy? That was worrying. Snap. A few years ago Google
released the Google Glass and people were fighting against people that were wearing them,
and just a few years later people were jumping out in front of people that were wearing Snap Glasses saying, hey, upload my images, right? It’s a change; it’s a mindset change. It’s a cultural shift. Who’s got an iPhone X? iPhone 10? Anyone got an iPhone 10? Kinda cool with like, the
facial recognition, whatever. And building a huge
database right now of those. I’ve got a great friend who
designs the Meta 2 headset, and the applications from within that and the user experience. But this augmented reality
world is gonna come to us, and it’s gonna remove the
screens that we look at, and we’ll be having a reality
in the room that we know doesn’t really exist, but
it feels viscerally real. (bright music) (dog parking) (woman speaking foreign language) (singing in foreign language) (beeping) So that’s a short excerpt
from video by Keiichi Matsuda. It’s called Hyperreality. It’s about 12 minutes long;
you should go and watch that. It’s like a vision of the future. It was filmed down in
Medellin in Colombia. It was a crowd source campaign, raised over a million dollars. They created this incredible
vision of the future. Slightly dystopian as well. Hands up, who’s got an
Alexa device at home? Yeah? Well, your kids have got a new big sister, and they don’t need the parents anymore to answer any questions at all. Mattel have just actually
started a project called Aristotle cause
it was too creepy to give their kids voice control
to assist in their home. But Amazon pretty much
within a month, actually, launched the Echo Dot for kids, where it teaches your kids manners. You know, the parents are
being removed out of the way. Let’s start kids early so when they get their first credit
card at the age of 18, they’ve become those really
true, loyal customers with us. Then we’ve got self-driving vehicles, they’re gonna be driving around, and they’re gonna be scanning the world. Google’s mapping cars aren’t
going to exist in the future. Every single car that’s
got camera’s onboard will be sharing that data,
and there’ll be brokered, licensed agreement that
we’ll probably sign away when we actually sign into our vehicle when we get in to be driven around, ’cause it’ll be self-driving. So, we’re kind of walking
into surveillance capitalism, one cool service at a time. Something new comes along, oh yeah, I’m an early adopter, let’s go for it. This is about responsibilities
and who we are. I think Mark Zuckerberg going in front of the senate was truly
just the tip of the spear. I think that he took the
brunt of anger and confusion about the modern world for
the entire tech industry. I think it’s the tip of the spear because it’s the beginning
of the conversation. Sure, regulation. But regulation needs to
be far and wide-spreading. We know that if we try and apply that to the thousands of
companies that do store data that inertia happens almost immediately. So we have to have a new
way of looking at this. Unfortunately, our family is the product, and we’ve signed away control. Right? And this makes me feel
incredibly uncomfortable when I have these kinds of conversations with tens of thousands
of people every year. I speak at conferences
and this is a cool message of what I talk about about responsibility. I think we need to stop and realize that we can maintain some
control of our own lives. We’re humans, not algorithms. But we’ve actually got
systems and applications and platforms and advertising
that’s trying to get us to react to them in algorithmic ways. We can actually maintain
new ways of thinking where we actually become more human again. That humanity is incredibly important. We want certainty and variety,
significance and love. We want growth and contribution. We’ve been like this
for thousands of years, we’re gonna want to be like
this for a thousand more years. I actually think that we’re in a future where we need to step up. And design, as a whole,
of these applications and infrastructures
need to come from people that are experienced in family units. I also think that there should be more women designers
involved in all of this, where a deeper level of empathy
is apparent in the design. I think the terms and
conditions should be simple. I don’t think we should sell any data related to any of our
children’s activities. And that should go from the cloud to the hardware to the application level. I think we’ve become lazy
as application developers, and just, yeah, we’ll just copy and paste, we’ll get our lawyers to go through the terms and conditions, it’s standard for
everyone in the industry. Maybe we can make a new decision about what privacy means in the modern age. The question I come back to is, you know, are the kids alright? I think the kids are
alright if we actually help them to think
differently about the world. That they’ve got a choice, and that we’ve got a
choice to use the platforms for what we need to use them for and not what they want us to use them for. Thank you very much. (audience applauding)

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