ODI: The Future is Being Written in Lines of Code
The Open Data Institute (ODI) of Queensland commenced its ODI Connect Series on 6 April 2016 with the “The Art and Science of the Web”.
The Web is all around us, it envelops us, and is now integral to our everyday living. But, what is “The Web?”
Tim Berners-Lee described the Web as a “Social Machine” where humans do the creative work, and the machines do the administration.
The presentation considered the question of what does this actually mean? And how is the Web evolving as societies evolve? Leanne Fry and Anni Rowland-Campbell explored some very thought provoking topics. Leanne Fry is the Chief Digital Officer at The Fair Work Ombudsman and Anni Rowland-Campbell, is a Director of Intersticia, a company which works to help people work more effectively with technology and to understand the evolving interplay between analogue and digital information technologies. Anni is an observer and practitioner of Web Science and an advocate for digital literacy.
Anni and Leanne were quick to point out that Digital Disruption has already happened. The stars of the digital disruptor stage are Uber and Airbnb who have entered the market with no cars and no hotels or apartments by tapping into spare capacity, taking business away from traditional taxi companies and hoteliers.
Anni also spoke about the Ethereum Project which is a decentralised platform that runs “smart contracts” and was crowdfunded during August 2014. Smart contracts are programs and protocols that facilitate and automate the negotiation or performance of a contract. Ethereum contracts can be implemented in various languages and as the contracts are stored in blockchain, the code is public and can be read by anyone. There are many projects already being built on Ethereum including a decentralised over-the-air television streaming network, a rock-paper-scissor game with a twist, and the “first ever decentralised virtual world”. The gateway to Ethereum is the “Ethereum Wallet” which allows you to hold and secure the platform currency “Ether” and write, deploy and use smart contracts.
Annie commented that we are the last generation who can stop and think about what life was like before the technology rush and the Internet. The irony is that technology does not always make our lives easier but sometimes much harder.
The meeting concluded with the thought: We all seem to be rushing somewhere but no one knows where.
We need to slow down.
This is not just all about technology as there are some very critical ethical and moral boundaries that we as an interim generation need to think about. For example, people are demonstrating disinhibition online that they would never display in normal face-to-face interaction with others. The modern phenomenon of “trolling” is troubling in that some of the most vicious attacks are perpetrated by ordinary people behaving online in a way that is totally out of character. This is encouraged by the invisibility of the Internet because “you can’t see me”.
Then, the concept of full scale automation and the quest for intelligent machines continues to chase. What happens if the holy grail of artificial intelligence happens and we can design the perfect virtual mate?
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