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Public Worlds


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How digital technology will transform identity, work and the city

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Public Worlds

  1. 1. Future Perspectives Public worlds How digital technology will transform identity, work and the city Technology 2020 1 Technology 2020 Public worlds
  2. 2. Future Perspectivesshowcases The Futures Public worldsCompany’s newthinking. It outlinescritical issues, revealsnew insights, and helpsidentify new sources Technology 2020: Public Worlds is theof growth.For more information please visit fourth and final report in a series The Futures Company which seeks to explore how digital technology will remake our world over the next decade. In the first, main, report in the series, we outlined our analysis and the big picture of technological change; in this short series of further reports, we discuss what some of the impacts will be on everyday life in 2020. In this edition, we look specifically at the impact of digital life on questions of identity, on the world of work, and on our experience of the city. © 2012 The Futures Company. Some rights reserved. 2
  3. 3. Comprehensively summarizing able to draw on our knowledgethe future of technology on of other social, economic andcomplex issues such as these cultural trends, and assessin a few hundred words would how these will interact withbe ill-advised, and we don’t technological changes.attempt to do that. Instead,we provide an overview of What this means is that thesome of the key trends and following provides a series oftechnological developments, snapshots, which are intendedand a perspective on how to be stimulating. They are notthese will change the way specific to a particular industrypeople go about their lives. or geography, but we hope that they provoke you to look atIn doing this, we are helped these issues in more depth forby some of the tools and your business or organization.knowledge available to us atThe Futures Company. Oneof our founding principlesis that you cannot make anintelligent assumption about To make intelligent assumptionsthe impact of technologywithout considering changes about the impact of technology youto fundamental infrastructure also need to consider social changeand social conditions. We use and infrastructure systemsa range of models to help uswith this analysis, such asthe Technology Axis Modelreferenced in the first reportin this series. Furthermore,because we look through thelens of foresight and futures,rather than technology, we are 3 Technology 2020 Public worlds
  4. 4. The world of Tech 2020This Future Perspectives are now about a decade into technology, and the role ofreport is part of a series the deployment phase of the infrastructure, systems,of reports on how digital ICT revolution. regulation and businesstechnology is reshaping our models in—typically—actingworld. The first in the series, The next decade will see the as a brake on take-up.Technology 2020, published in progressive unbundling oflate 2011, set out an argument technology, as connectivity Finally, looking at theseabout the development of becomes more ubiquitous. different elements together,digital technology over the We use the acronym DDSS it is clear that businessnext decade or so which fell for data, devices, software innovation takes place onlyinto four parts. This argument and sensors, to represent a towards the end of theis summarized briefly here. way of thinking about this technology wave. The edge- unbundling process. The result of-town ‘big box’ store, forThe Information and will be a technological world in example, evolved very late inCommunication Technology which users and suppliers can the auto and oil wave; similarly,(ICT) revolution is only the endlessly reconfigure the ways the US meat- packing industrylatest in a number of long in which they use technology emerged near the end of thewaves of technological to interface with the world. rail/steam wave. We are 10evolutions that we have seensince the Industrial Revolution.The other four were cotton We are 10 to 15 years away from theand canals, steam and rail, end of the digital technology wave -steel and chemicals, and oiland autos. (In this analysis we just the time when we’ll start to seedraw heavily on the work of business model innovationthe technology and economichistorian Carlota Perez). Eachwave, which lasts for 50 to 60years, has followed the samepattern: an ‘installation‘ phase,funded by investment finance, Understanding technology to 15 years away from thein which infrastructure is on its own is not enough to end of the digital wave, inbuilt; a crash, as expectations understand which devices and other words, exactly at theoutstrip take-up; and a applications will be successful. point at which we can expect‘deployment‘ phase, in which We use the technology axis business model innovation tonew products and services model developed by HP Labs accelerate.take hold. The ICT wave started researcher Bill Sharpe toin 1971 with the invention of understand the ways in whichthe microprocessor, and the social values will influencecrash occurred in 2001-02. We the adoption and use of© 2012 The Futures Company. Some rights reserved. 4
  5. 5. Identity in 2020Keywords: security, single identity,forgetting, digital footprints, cryptographyQuestions of identity run deep the issue is because these get “There is the assumption thatinto the internet like letters confused. In those parts of people want to trust Googlethrough a stick of seaside the internet which are about with their true name. “Whyrock. One of the earliest online commerce and transaction, ever not?” ask Google’scontroversies was in 1993, identity becomes an issue senior systems architects.when Julian Dibbell wrote “A about security; we need to Well, I can only assume thatRape in Cyberspace”, about know that you are a legitimate none of them are planninghis pseudonymous adventures party to this transaction. This on a second career as ain a multiplayer online role- is as much about security as corporate whistleblower. Orplaying game. The internet has identity: the tangible world have abusive partners whoalways seemed to be a “soft” tells us that if the rewards are aren’t paying attention toenvironment, like the city, in great enough some people the restraining orders. Orwhich identity was essentially will find ways to disguise their other species of stalkersa mutable creation, in which person and purpose with and vermin. Or are politicalone could present different malign intent. activists or dissidents inpersonas to different groups authoritarian countries. ...and in different spaces. “On In those parts of the internet Indeed, having a name thatthe internet”, after all, as which are more like civil society, you’re willing to be knownthe cartoon famously goes, and are about ‘associational by to authority and to“no-one knows you’re a dog”. life’ or ‘the public sphere’ (to Google Plus users smacks ofOr, in 2011, no-one knows draw on Michael Edwards’ unexamined social privilegewhether you’re a gay woman definitions), however, questions ... Nobody is after you withSyrian activist called Amina of identity become more malice in mind, and indeed, youor a married Edinburgh-based complex. Nonetheless, both fear nothing because you haveAmerican doctoral student Google and Facebook have been nothing to fear.”called Tom. trying to herd users towards a single personal identity and aEither way, the question of single name. This has producedidentity unfolds online in degrees of hostility. The sciencetwo important and different fiction writer, Charles Stross, forways, and one of the reasons example, had this to say aboutthere’s so much heat about Google: 5 Technology 2020 Public worlds
  6. 6. public activity from your government. But even here Everyone should have the right the argument is complex. On to a ‘digital suicide’ to purge their the one hand, Evgeny Morozov argues that the internet is a teenage online embarrassments friend to repressive regimes, since it enables them to track their opponents more easily through their digital footprints. On the other, the TurkishHere, there are increasing Most of this discussion has sociologist Zeynep Tefeckiquestions about who manages been conducted through the suggests that identity regimesyour online data. Eric Schmidt, lens of largely democratic in which our digital identitiesthe former Google CEO, has countries where the are closer to our tangibleargued that people should assumption is made that ones are more likely reducehave the right to a ‘digital you are not at risk for your fragmentation and to increasesuicide’ to purge their teenage solidarity, while acknowledgingonline embarrassments. In a at the same time that activistsmore complex argument, in his are owed “both the bestbook Delete, Viktor Mayer- Both Google chance to hide as well as theSchönberger talks about the and Facebook optimal conditions to notnecessary role that forgetting have been hide; to that end, technologyplays in managing human companies must sit downsocieties. We will, he suggests, trying hard with human rights groups andhave to help the internet learn to push users others to figure out best wayshow to forget. But users may to navigate this complexity” .get there first; for all the digital towards a Again, this may becomeconventional wisdom that single identity a reputational issue for‘privacy is dead’, users are businesses.already finding ways to protectthemselves from pryingcorporations.© 2012 The Futures Company. Some rights reserved. 6
  7. 7. In a recent piece, Tim Carmodylooked at this through thelens of social purpose, and We are likely to move towardsobserved that ‘identity’ had models of identity management inbecome associated online with which users decide what they area “fixed, verified, monetizablepersonhood” while anonymity going to say about themselveshad become “associated withchaos” He quoted Christopher .Poole, the founder of theanonymous site 4chan, as decide what they want to say exchange encrypted datasaying, “It’s not who you share about themselves and whom across an untrusted network.with, but who you share as.” they want to share it with. Some people may chooseIn practice, we represent not to connect to the redourselves as different social At the same time, if that is true internet at all and only crazypersona, and this therefore of the message, the medium people (and organizations)becomes a business question; is likely to be more tightly will send unencryptednetworks such as Twitter managed. We expect to see data to unauthenticatedwhich enable this are likely to different layers of the internet, better than networks such with different levels of security,as Facebook, which discourage for these different purposes. “On the blue, closed, internetit. And here, programmers David Birch, of the specialist you will need to authenticateare as always one step ahead. consultancy Consult Hyperion, yourself before you areCanvas, for example, uses has written about a future in allowed to access anythingFacebook to verify identity, which there will be a ‘red’ and and a digital identitybut allows people to represent a ‘blue’ internet (the colors are infrastructure will deliverthemselves in a variety of taken from the way in which privacy (and in someways. In the end, it seems likely the military label secure and cases anonymity) throughthat we will move towards the insecure networks). cryptography, not throughmodel of identity management data protection registrars orproposed by Kim Cameron, “On the red, open, internet privacy ombudsmen.”in which it is left to users to people and organizations will 7 Technology 2020 Public worlds
  8. 8. The world of work Keywords: flexible working, privacy, consumerization of IT, Millennials, trust, remote supervision Digital technologies are In work done last year for causing rift lines across Dell with TNS, we identified Quantum organizations which are a number of critical issues computing becoming increasing acute which were shaping the as younger workers bring landscape in which these will make it their own devices into the conflicts would be played impossible workplace, together with out, which are summarized to keep data different expectations of how here. the workplace functions. But secure for any at the same time, often for Supervision and length of time reasons of compliance and surveillance: It becomes regulation, organizations need easier than ever to monitor secure audit trails. Digital what people are doing and technologies are driving an where; there are productivityGovernments – and large increasingly large gap about gains from giving feedbackcommercial organizations expectations of the workplace on task completion andsuch as Amazon – won’t between employers and performance, and analyzingconnect to the ‘red’ internet employees – a gap which only workflow. But there areanymore. some businesses are able to privacy concerns, and people straddle. withdraw or attempt to cloakBeyond this, we are told that themselves. Gaming thequantum computing will make system, acts of retaliationit almost impossible to keep and vandalism become moreany data secure for any length common, including usingof time, no matter how it is instruments of surveillanceprotected, and that this will against those in power.happen quite soon. It may beless than a decade away. This Networks acrossis an area of huge uncertainty. organizations: Hierarchies are flattened within and outside the workplace; communities of interest or© 2012 The Futures Company. Some rights reserved. 8
  9. 9. proportion of the burden of healthcare and education for their workforce. Slower growth also means slower salary growth: there is more emphasis on personal development at work as an incentive for employees. Asian companies use this to retain employees in competitive markets. A more loosely defined workforce: The expansioncross-functional project teams more tasks and services, of the workforce, in ageare formed within and across to unbundle and work into range and cultural and ethnicorganizations, straddling component tasks, and background, leads to a loosertraditional corporate crowdsource resource to and more heterogeneoushierarchies. But the divide accomplish these tasks via a group of employees in termsbetween working/ not working labour market. There is more of background and values,becomes more blurred than potential for decentralized, working habits, knowledge andever for knowledge worker, small-scale manufacturing skills. With greater diversity itand the intellectual property of and customization of becomes more incumbent onthe workplace is increasingly consumer goods. employers to create systemscontested. Workplaces and that recognize and allowworkforces become more Development for employee for difference rather thanporous, as companies access retention: Slower growth finding and retaining ‘talent’.external networks. in the West puts greater Intergenerational knowledge emphasis on employee transfer becomes moreThe unbundling and productivity, and Western important.outsourcing of work: It economies are happy forbecomes easier to outsource employers to bear a greater 9 Technology 2020 Public worlds
  10. 10. The employee’s perspectiveThe dominant social trend and by place, beyond the There are of course, someover the last two decades workplace and conventional categories of worker forof working life has been working hours. But it is true whom place will continue tothe rise of the “extended of other workers too: the be important. It will be a while,workplace”, driven mostly contact centre worker may one imagines, before streetby the introduction of no longer physically be in the or office cleaners, or garbagethe remote working contact center; the ‘driver’ workers, are working remotely,technologies from email to of the train may be driving it but even here robotics is likelyVirtual Private Networks from a control center tens or to change some of their work.(VPN) to teleconferencing. hundreds of miles away; and And while retail staff may stillFor knowledge workers in the “pilot’ of a drone missile have physically to turn up atparticular, this involves the may be located thousands of the store, they will increasinglyextension of work by time miles from its target. be dealing with customers who© 2012 The Futures Company. Some rights reserved. 10
  11. 11. are not present physically and likely that the shift to moreare interacting with a digital flexible working patterns will Employeesversion of the goods. And all continue to be gradual ratherof this creates for employers than dramatic, even if there increasinglyquestions of control. are dramatic improvements want to use in the technology that allowsAt the same time, we can people to work from home. their ownobserve that the importance For example, advanced devices andof the office as a space for videoconferencing or software atinteraction and socializing telepresencing technologieswas under-estimated by will increasingly substitute for workforecasters. We do not all work routine business meetingsfrom home for three days a that would otherwise requireweek, even though many of us international or long- distance travel, particularly more common, whatever as companies in stagnant the workplace handbook Western economies have travel says. For certain industries The ‘extended budgets cut. where it is more important workplace’ to cultivate trust to govern Given an enhanced capability behavior and incentivize staff, involves for monitoring and surveillance this is likely to push the shift extending at work, privacy will become further towards the current a more important issue trend of ‘consumerization work by time for employees. Distrust of IT’ whereby employees , and place and dislike of workplace IT increasingly want to use their may increase as a result, own devices and software and gaming the system or at work. There is no better avoiding surveillance in ways way for a smart employer tocould, and in the meantime, as simple as sending emails demonstrate to their staffoffice spaces have become to work colleagues using your that they trust them than bya strange combination of smartphone rather than your allowing them to use whateverthe library and the club. It is work computer may become brand of smartphone, tablet or 11 Technology 2020 Public worlds
  12. 12. email package they want.At the same time, more The businessnetworked, de-centralized software of theorganizations will be harderto serve with centrally future will bespecified hardware and adopted andsoftware; users are morelikely to turn to IT solutions designed bythat suit their own particular employees,needs. This may mean that not the ITfor these businesses at least,the business software of departmentthe future will be adoptedand designed by employeesrather than management orthe IT department. On the with employees, and may evenother hand, organizations suffer recruitment problemsthat feel that they have to as a result.keep a closer watch overindividuals – for example foraudit or compliance purposes- may effectively ban themfrom using such devices inthe workplace – you may haveto leave your smartphone atthe security scanner beforegoing to work, or school.Companies which try to exertsuch controls without havinga good reason to do so willfind themselves in conflict© 2012 The Futures Company. Some rights reserved. 12
  13. 13. Work: The employer’sperspectiveOver the next ten years, it anticipate when she should (or mutual benefit to employeeswill become easier to tell shouldn’t) be taking a break; and employers, for examplewhat employees are doing, it may even be possible to remote supervision, orbut harder to tell them what watch employees through their ‘spellchecker’ like devicesto do, as the four horsemen screens using bio-directional which give feedback on taskof data, devices, screens screens that integrate depth completion and performance.and sensors enable greater and position detecting Equally, companies ormonitoring of the workforce. cameras with displays. organizations with massiveIt will be possible for a postal workforces, such as Wal-delivery company to track There could be productivity Mart, or the NHS, couldthe movement and behavior gains from pervasive potentially have access toof one of their drivers to surveillance which are of huge aggregated repositories 13 Technology 2020 Public worlds
  14. 14. of socially and economically it easier to collaborate and don’t know each other. Thevaluable data on human share information outside the A just-in-timebehavior in working life. immediate workforce.However, it is hard to balance workforcethese in a way which maintains In time, this may also help lead whose worktrust between employer to a ‘just-in-time workforce’ in ,and employee, which is which work is unbundled and is unbundled,typically a far larger source of split into component tasks and split into tasks,productivity and value for an outsourced (and sometimes and outsourcedorganization. crowdsourced) to an external labor market. We see thisThe concept of a ‘company’ today with services such asmay also become looser and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, challenge for managers will bemore affiliative, at least for but over the next decade there to motivate such employeesthose who operate within will be many more possibilities and align them with thethe knowledge economy. We for outsourcing as more tasks company and its values.see this now as networks can be accomplished remotelyand communities of interest due to telecommunications By the end of the decadesuch as LinkedIn Groups are and sensor technology. An members of the Millennialformed within and across internet-enabled television cohort will increasingly beorganizations, straddling in Italy could be repaired arriving in senior managementtraditional corporate remotely by multiple skilled positions. It remains to be seenhierarchies and structures. operators in Shenzhen whether this will be a source ofSmart companies will overnight, and a healthcare change within organizations, orlearn to harness these new technician in New Delhi will of conflict.knowledge networks for be able to take a patient’stheir advantage, which may pulse in rural India via theirentail adopting a more open smartphone. The workforceworkforce model, as well as of the future for many servicenew communications and industries could be thousandsmessaging technologies of people, working in differentbeyond email, which make places, the majority of whom© 2012 The Futures Company. Some rights reserved. 14
  15. 15. The city in 2020Keywords: smartcities, opendata data activism, sticky shadows designed an installation in which viewers tour Tallinn in search of different types of electromagnetic noise. Our experience of the city of the future will increasingly lie in the intersections between the portable, the locatable, and the trackable. A confluence of mobile devices, sensors and GPS can show us the flows which make the city work, and can, potentially, enable us to improve them. There’s a scale here, from simple mapping (for example of crime data), to plugging the individual into systems data that already exists (transit system data) to dynamic flows (the SanOur cities are now full of ability to collect large amounts Francisco waste tracked byinvisible systems, layers upon of urban data in real time, MIT and the city’s Gray Arealayers of them, which make which are radically changing Foundation), to using people’sthe tangible world function, the way we understand, design movements around the city toand which bind us together. and ultimately live in cities.” improve our knowledge of it.Now, increasingly, we are The result will be to changeable to see those networked the way we use our cities, All of this becomes far morelayers, to use them, and to and how they shape the way powerful when it createsdisplay them. As Carlo Ratti we use them. The point can feedback: the millions of bitsof MIT’s SENSEable City Lab be made in other ways. The of aggregated and anonymoushas written, “We now have the artist Christina Kubisch has data collected by London 15 Technology 2020 Public worlds
  16. 16. Transport’s electronic ticketing is the rise of open data,system have allowed transport in which organizationsplanners to adjust schedules which have access to datato reduce waiting times and make it available togetherimprove passenger flows. with the APIs (Application Programming Interface) whichIt’s also striking that relatively developers need to buildsmall amounts of data can applications. It is this whichimprove our knowledge allows smartphone users inof the city considerably. London to access bus and tubeMIT’s Copenhagen Wheel data. By 2020, or before, theproject, a ‘smart bike’ shown smartphone will have evolvedin Copenhagen during the so that it is an informationClimate Change talks, during platform, a permission2009, has a hub which collects device (a digital ticket) and adata as it goes around the payment device. Transport iscity. The pollution data from likely to be the first to benefiteven a small number of bikes as passengers can switchproduces more accurate from, say, a city bike schemeinformation than the city’s to a train to a shared car tothree standing sensors, which complete a journey. But openalso cost $300,000 to install. data does sometimes needFor the same reason, some regulators to step in to requirelocal authorities in the UK have providers to share.found that tracking mobileGPS data on local roads is The second trend whicha better indicator of traffic is likely to follow is of datacongestion. activism, as local groups The images of the Summer of Smart analyze data to check program are from its blog and are usedOne of the strongest trends that it complies with local here with thanks. To find out more about it, please visitwhich is opening up these new regulations, or the law, and of city management also to open up arguments© 2012 The Futures Company. Some rights reserved. 16
  17. 17. about equity. It’s well known, for example, that the worst air and noise pollution tends to be found in the poorer areas of cities, but it has been hard to show. The politics will change as the evidenceLessons on Open Data becomes easier to display. As Peter Hirshberg of the GrayPeter Hirshberg has four lessons for people wanting to Area Foundation says, ‘Whenaccelerate the openness of the data in their cities: you can see what happens in a city, you can get to work onEngage local politicians. The Gray Area Foundation ran something” .a series of ‘hackathons’ in 2011 to build applications forthe city. The Mayoral candidates were invited. The brief to The third is the rise of digitalparticipants was simple: build ‘ideas worth stealing’. commentary, the so-called ‘sticky shadows’ which peopleMake connections between city experts and will be able to attach as ainnovators. “The town hall is top down, the city is bottom digital aura to the physicalup” But you need to bridge that gap to succeed. . space for others to read later. These may extend fromNon-profits can move faster than businesses or information to abuse.the public servant. So find propositions which createopportunities for them to fulfill their purpose. And finally, there will be conflicts over how open orLook for new forms of participation. Move beyond closed the urban systemscoders and developers to artists and activists. should be. In his influential essay, ‘The Street as Platform’ ,There is more about the Gray Area Foundation’s the urbanist Dan Hill wrote‘Summer of Smart’ program at http://www. about the range of 17 Technology 2020 Public worlds
  18. 18. data use, which “traversesquite a few modes of activity- from private to public;individual to civic; commercialto recreational; residentialto vocational. And in allinstances systems are in flux,in development, or requireimplementing, testing andshaping. In many of theseinstances there are decisionsto be made about openness,responsibility, privacy, security,interaction, experience.”We want our Wi-Fi to be open,but we don’t want our cars tobe hacked. But walkers mightwant our smart streets to beable to restrict cars in urbanareas to the speed limit. Thepolice might want to be able totrack vehicles in real time, butcivil libertarians will find thisintrusive. These are all areasof conflict. What is clear isthat the street of 2020 will befar smarter, and will tell us farmore, than it does now.© 2012 The Futures Company. Some rights reserved. 18
  19. 19. EndnotesIdentityPage 5‘A rape in cyberspace’:‘the cartoon famously goes’:,_nobody_knows_you%27re_a_dog‘Syrian activist called Amina: Stross on Google: 6‘In his book Delete’:‘Evgeny Morozov’: in the book, Net Delusion, Perseus Books, 2011.‘Zeynep Tefecki’: 7‘fixed, verified, monetizable, personhood’:‘He quoted Christopher Poole’:‘Kim Cameron’: ‘red’ and a ‘blue’ internet: 8‘work done last year with TNS’: 13‘using bio-directional screens’: 15‘Carlo Ratti’: Technology 2020:‘Christina Kubisch has designed an installation’: Public worlds byins/ee/prj/gtw/aus/wer/cri/enindex.htm Andrew Curry andPage 16‘Copenhagen Wheel’: Andy Stubbings,‘access bus and tube data’: is licensed under aPage 17 Creative Commons‘Summer of Smart’: Attribution-‘Lessons on Open Data’: from a presentation by Peter Hirschberg atWPP’s Stream conference, 2011 NonCommercial-‘The Street as Platform’: NoDerivs 3.0the-street-as-p.html Unported License. 19 Technology 2020 Public worlds
  20. 20. About The Futures CompanyThe Futures Company is the leading global foresightand futures consultancy. We are a team of consultants,researchers and futures experts who apply a foresight andfutures approach to unlock new sources of growth for ourclients. We offer a range of subscription services and researchand consulting solutions. We have teams in the UK, US,Mexico, Brazil and Argentina and partnerships in China, Indiaand Poland. We are a Kantar company within WPP.Technology 2020: Commercial Worlds was written by Andrew Curryand Andy Stubbings. Designed by Augustus Newsam.Will Galgey, Global CEOT: +44 (0)20 7955 1818will.galgey@thefuturescompany.comwww.thefuturescompany.comwww.© 2012 The Futures Company. Some rights reserved. 20