IT has enabled us to efficiently and –usually- effectively store and use big amounts of information to our advantage. Automation has cut costs, shortened supply chains a.o.. Other IT innovations have improved safety, health care and have even saved lives. A new innovation discussed on Techcrunch, the “wearable baby monitor”( Techcrunch) caught my eye whilst searching for a topic for this forum.
Whilst not immediately relevant for what we discuss in this course maybe, the technology did raise a number of (controversial) questions for me. The monitor is a small device that can be put around a baby’s ankle, measuring things like heart rate, the temperature of the baby and the room, the level of light, and more. The information gathered can be accessed via an app on your phone. The app will warn you if something is wrong, e.g. “the level of light in the room is not optimal” or “your baby has just stopped breathing”. I have to admit the app would be quite helpful in case of the latter, but with regard to some of the other options the technology focuses on, such as optimizing the temperature in the room, the level of light, I find it is going a bit too far. It is meant to make it easier on parents, enabling them to make it as comfortable as possible. Nevertheless, the technology does not measure other stuff relevant for a small child’s upbringing, such as the need for attention or interaction. Also, creating a 100% safe and comfortable atmosphere for your child could harm the baby in other ways, for example with regard to its overall immune system.
Apart from these more biological aspects, it is still a technology and technologies can experience failures. What if your app has not been updated correctly or the software has a bug which could give off wrong warnings or incorrect information, resulting in parents not noticing something could be wrong with their child or worried parents making their children go through numerous unnecessary, expensive and possibly harmful medical tests? Could it be that the technological world might have become a bit too enthusiastic with regard to making our life easier? Could people rely on information provided by technology too much, foregoing more emotional, human-specific aspects?
Google, the suprema potestas (supreme power) ?
Sovereignty probably comes from the Latin suprema potestas, meaning “supreme power or authority”. Formerly sovereign examples are the pope, the emperor or king. The sovereignty of The Netherlands began in 1588 by the regions declaring themself as sovereignty. This meant that they become the authority in the state and was not submissive to other powers.
Are the sovereign countries nowadays not submissive to other powers? Like to the submissive power of Google? You are getting now some fear creeps? Actually that’s exactly the point to take under the magnifying glass, not the Google glass you’re immediately thinking to, but the power of Google getting your brains somehow dominating as an authority.
Whether it is Google Wallet, Google Knol or Google Barometer, there are dozens of known and unknown free services Google is offering with their more than 1 million servers to people all over the world. With hundreds of software and hardware products and services is Google almost everywhere, except on your toilet paper and the coffee you are drinking, invisible shaping our lives with a LOT-data (not BIG data, introducing new metric name for the amount of data that does not include all possible data of everything but one step lower; so much data that it is not possible to estimate any way). The implying result is a new meaning for sovereignty; authority in the online world that is not submissive to other powers, namely Google.
This LOT-data Google distils, is the real sovereignty for now and the future I think; the power to KNOW how people are living, don’t you think? Who can stand against Google? Yeah, the governments, right? PRISM, was sure for that purpose !
Everybody sometimes gives money to charity, but how do you know that you give money to the right charity. Do you know what happens to your money?
Must charities do not tell you what happens to your donated money, because nobody asks. You usually give money to charity based on an emotional feelings, you get convinced by the appealing marketing campaign that is used, or the fundraising team is just really good.
But do you actually have an idea how your money is changing the world, what happens to it? No, not really it is not that you receive a letter of the charity in which they explain what happened to your money. It could be that this information exists, but it is not really shared knowledge. To change this non-transparent market an Expedia for charity organizations was started, named GiveWell. This non-profit organization focuses on measuring, analyzing, and publicizing charity effectiveness. You now have the opportunity as an individual donor to see what is done with the money that you donate; the transparency of the market is basically increased.
So what is it what GiveWell does to create this transparency, they basically survey people that help and monitor the impact that a charity has and they share that information in a dashboard on their website.
While Expedia is used by people/customers to book their tickets, hotels or car rental, would this also work for charity organizations? Will people make use of a website that tells them which charities are good to donate to and which ones are not?
Curious about GiveWell have a look at the video below that explains how it works.
Wilkie, C., 2003.Transparency Leads Donors To Better Charitable Giving. Forbes, [online] 29 August. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/emc/2013/08/29/givewell-how-data-transparency-leads-donors-to-better-charitable-giving/?ss=transform-tech [Accessed 16 September 2013].