There is a fundamental shift in how we interact with technology that has been progressing for a bit more than 15 years now. Shift Sight stands firmly on one side of this shift. Other companies are scrambling to get to the other side by any means possible.
This is a great divide in technology that defines how we interact with gadgets. The implications in schools (and edtech) are especially worrying.
Once upon a time, you owned your purchases.
There was a purchase for a need. A music player for listening to music. A GPS for finding your way around. A game console for playing games. A computer for getting work done.
Shelving the discussion about the necessity of consumerism, these purchases were yours. You did not buy the game console wondering if the games would be made obsolete in a year.
Nowadays, there are highly-personalized, invented needs to create purchases. We buy gadgets-for-the-sake-of-buying-gadgets. The obscenities committed against people and planet from gadget-cradle to gadget-grave are hidden from your view at the time of purchase.
I recently found that this situation is named surveillance capitalism, courtesy of Shoshana Zuboff.
The smartphone has largely been responsible for getting us here. Unlike many of the dedicated gadgets of yesteryear, the smartphone has the ubiquitous connectivity. It can also simulate enough of the features that we came to expect from our dedicated gadgets.
As single-bottom-line corporations continually move toward practices that maximize profit, this connectivity serves a financial need: it exploits human weaknesses and can reduce the amount of gray matter you carry in your head by overstimulating you with media. (If you need a litmus test, when is the last time that you observed someone itching to look at a GPS every 5 minutes?)
This is a connected replacement for a gadget. With the benefits of connectivity came the spying and the artificial obsolescence. And now, it includes manipulation.
If you needed a reason to shut off that screen in your pocket permanently, this is it. Privacy is not about a need to hide information; it is about protecting you from constant, highly-personalized manipulation.
Good For Business
In proper science, the premise is never allowed to direct the conclusion. Simply identifying a hypothesis should not lead to a particular result.
In proper business, the premise can direct the conclusion for the right price. This is the basis of many relationships between academia and industry, even if it is never outright planned. It's not a conspiracy. The partnerships that are producing a good ROI for a corporation (the desired result) will be strengthened with more research dollars for that particular university or research team.
In surveillance capitalism, this system is extrapolated to individuals. The promise from the ad broker (with data from wireless carrier, social media, etc.) is that you will be shown the right ad in the right place at the right time to generate a sale for the company.
Not a single person is immune to ads. And machine learning, combined with data collected everywhere and anywhere without your consent, aims to predict how you are feeling and what you are doing. The goal is to take this starting point and change it; to change you.
I wrote above that there are needs invented for purchases. Industry has many tools in their toolbox to algorithmically analyze and influence buying decisions. It may help to read my previous post (if you missed it) about how easily we can be manipulated without our knowledge.
This is the basis of surveillance capitalism: the broker sells an ad, placing a bet that it can manipulate you into a future purchase for the buyer of the ad. You are not even "the product," you are treated like a piece of meat with a wallet. A piece of meat that a corporation is working to exploit.
In single-bottom-line companies, what is good for business is bad for people. It is also bad for planet.
Industry has been working overtime for the last 15 years to convince us that adding connectivity to a digital device instantly improves it. Edtech is not immune to this mentality.
Not only does this unsustainable attitude create e-waste, but it is creating a fundamental divide between connected devices and non-connected ones like Jade.
In public schools, there never seems to be enough budget for apps and technology. Schools where learning and individual creative development are valued over grades -- the Waldorfs and the Montessoris -- sit squarely on the non-connected side of this divide with Jade.
Due to the ramifications of these widespread, intrusive, and manipulative campaigns, there is no time to sit back and wait for an objective truth to develop. By that time, the inertia of this technology will ensure that it is entrenched and cannot be undone easily.
If you want to take action, demand less technology and more teachers (with better support and better funding) in your child's classrooms. The technology serves corporate interests, and the latter serves your child.
Jade does not fall into the corporate-interest category. It is unlike anything on the market.
Leaving the Internet port out of Jade's picture will enhance your experience and leave you with no worries about spying or the manipulation of your children.
Connected technology is not meant to be durable or repairable. It is e-waste once it leaves the factory line. It is fairly common that a current company's iteration of a connected device spies on your usage habits so that the next iteration may further exploit you.
Shift Sight is taking feedback the old-fashioned way: talk to us. We are creating a durable product to fill your internal needs (and the needs of future generations!) rather than trying to manipulate you into purchases.
See you next week!
Ty is a Founder of Shift Sight, LLC.