Do We Secretly Want This?

by / Monday, 31 August 2015 / Published in Movement Health

In an article published in The Guardian, Why the workplace of 2016 could echo Orwell’s 1984, the author takes a look at how new technologies may be used by employers to monitor their employees.

The monitoring of behaviour, productivity and social interaction seem downright, well, Orwellian. Could you imagine having a drone come by, hover over your shoulder for a bit and then fly off to the next person? And then, another drone comes and says, “You are scheduled to meet  your supervisor at 2, to discuss your recent lags in performance.” Sounds futuristic but apparently it’s not so, in fact it’s probably already possible. Now that’s downright scary (unless you’re an employer)!

On the other hand, with some of the measures, like encouraging workers to move more, eat better and drink less alcohol, one could argue that these are good things. Driving more safely would be healthy not only for the drivers, but also for other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

Nonetheless, I personally find these measures, no matter how helpful they might appear at first sight, to be very worrisome. Even if we leave out the danger of the data: being stolen, used for more effective advertising, and behaviour modification, the stress of feeling like we’re being constantly watched and evaluated could be very tiresome.

But then I have to wonder if we DO, perhaps secretly, want this in some way? How can I ask such a preposterous question? Because we’ve largely failed to check and upgrade our own behaviour. In general, we haven’t learned to make healthier choices in lifestyle, in spite of all the knowledge and choices available, at least to many people. I’m excluding the choice factor for those who are less fortunate than many of us. I also think that these Orwellian measures would more negatively effect the less fortunate as is often the case with drastic changes (perhaps by, for example forcing them to work harder than they should be required to).

So what can we do about this? Start making our own positive choices and monitor yourself a you see appropriate. In doing so, we can influence the kind of foods available in the stores. We can support each other in living healthier lifestyles, making movement for example, something to be encouraged in a positive way (as opposed to the shaming often used by advertisers of health and fitness companies).

Of course, we’d need to become politically active but change starts with each individual. Set examples for our children by turning off the smartphone while driving, talking with them and others. Go out and play ball for fifteen minutes after dinner rather than turning on the TV.

Do I sound like and old fashioned and out dated dreamer? Perhaps I do, but the things I’m learning about the future are not encouraging. I also know that we can take better care of ourselves and loved ones.

Until next time, think of how you might reduce your “digital footprint,” making you a little less visible to those advertising algorithms and  drones looking in your living room window and enjoy your humanity!


Thanks to Futurist Gerd Leonhard for bringing this to my attention.

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