With virtual assistants coordinating our every move and our lives held in the palm of our hand, it is undeniable that we are fast becoming slaves to our technology. What is slightly less obvious (at the moment) is the potential for that technology to learn about how we live and create a uniquely personal experience for us, every waking minute of the day (and even maybe marshal our dreams).
We are a product of our experiences, but the moment we plug in an analytical and predictive companion to our lives, it can learn about us in was that only our subconscious could fathom. Tech will be able to provide insights into our behavior that we could only guess at – we will be able to 'optimize' our lives, and I am sure that all sorts of solutions will appear that will take the strain.
The big data behind these insights will help to guide us like our own personal satnav, but instead of telling us to 'turn left at the junction' it will remind us to be patient when dealing with a certain person (because of a previous experience) or maybe to take a risk when we didn’t take one before. Our tech will get to know us, and there will be enough of a benefit to us that will ensure that we learn to trust it.
For me, this is the end game of big data, both in a business and a personal context. Our brains and our memories can only process so many experiences, and much of the subtlety is lost from each moment. It is true that human intuition is an incredibly powerful and still mysterious force, and for big data to realize its potential, it has to be channeled (by humans) along similar lines. This is the challenge for the big data professionals of today – they are being presented with increasingly more relevant information, but they have to create a system of A.I. that will process it like the human brain processes it. This may well be a few decades away, but I have no doubt that this day will come.
The moment that we can access the oceans of data about our personal experiences, and process the data as our brains would process it, the designer society will be here. Tech will understand us better than any loving partner, and you could argue that it will understand us better than we understand ourselves. When it suggests doing something that is on the tip of our tongue, you know that humanity will have reached a higher plane.
Of course, this designer society might prove a scary prospect, and we might all take a collective turn away from this prescriptive future, but given the progress of the past few years, it seems to me that this direction is inevitable.
Tech will know us well, it will be able to turn our lives into an intensely personal, pleasurable and probably profitable experience. We will worship at the altar of Big Data. Google understanding that we want to go on holiday (and suggesting suitably tantalizing destinations) is just the start. There are far more personal and subtle insights to come.