What keeps me up at night: Colenso BBDO’s Mylene Ong

Colenso BBDO head of strategy Mylene Ong discusses what keeps her up at night as a part of a series in conjunction with Tech Futures Lab.

What worries you the most about technology?

The accelerated pace of humans becoming obsolete. Jobs are disappearing faster than we think. We are yet to experience the full repercussions of this new order. Both social and economic structures in every society would need to be broken down and rebuilt. 

This chaotic period of transition is what worries me most. There would be many casualties. Schools are preparing kids for sectors that are fast disappearing. Governments and companies are slow to put in place re-skilling programs. 

What excited you the most?

Who says control is an illusion? 

What’s your scariest prediction for the future?

A dystopian society which is driven primarily by scarcity of natural resources. Reading about Russia fortifying its military presence in the Arctic Circle, waiting for the ancient ice to melt in order to lay claim to the oil and natural gas buried underneath is truly depressing. 

If you could go back in time, what’s one technology advancement you would rave about to your great-grandparents?

That would be in the early 1800s. Just about every technology advancement today would be considered witchcraft to them.  

What do you think New Zealand will look like as a country in 2038?

On the surface, nothing too dissimilar to 2018. As a new New Zealander, my observation is that the speed of change is very much kept in check by the need for consensus. Take infrastructure for example, we are looking at Auckland’s second runway ready in 2028 and a new location for the Ports of Auckland in 30 years’ time. 

Underneath the seemingly similar facade, I do believe neighbourhoods will become more racially segregated. It would take at least two generations for proper assimilation without any government intervention. 

What’s your social media usage like?


Do you try limit how much personal information is available about you online?

I don’t volunteer information unnecessarily. 

What will be dead in the next five years? (Products, companies, trends, etc.)

Coins, currency notes and passports. 

What does your ideal robot look like?

De-constructed. There is absolutely no need to have a life-size human-like machine. If you need an extra pair of hands in the kitchen to slice and dice, have apparatus designed just for that. All controlled by your voice. 

Will the robots become sentient and kill us all?

I won’t rule it out. Mass destruction seems to go hand in hand with power and control. 

How likely is it that we’re living in a simulation?

You mean like in the movie Matrix? Well, they could at least make me look more like Trinity. 

How far should we take human enhancement? (Bionic limbs, computer chips in brains, designer babies)

It’s similar to how I view cosmetic surgery, elective surgery and life-saving emergency surgery, which is what the word “enhancement” seems to suggest. 

What’s the best use of a chatbot you’ve seen?

Roman Bot which was featured in this year’s SXSW. 

How would you feel about interacting with a chatbot fuelled by a deceased loved one’s texts and social media posts?

I assume it’s a personal chatbot, a loved one of mine. If that’s the case, I think it is potentially a good thing. 

What about being a part of a social credit systemBlack Mirror-style?

We’ve always lived in a social credit system, with or without technology. Throughout history! The difference moving forward is that the playing field will be more levelled. Ethnicity, socio-economic backgrounds, appearances and many other biases will be kept in check. 

Want to make a change in 2018?

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To read what’s keeping other industry folk awake at night, click here.

This story is part of a content partnership with Tech Futures Lab.

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