YoungShand managing director Duncan Shand discusses what keeps him up at night as a part of a series in conjunction with Tech Futures Lab.
What worries you the most about technology?
I don’t worry about technology — I get excited about it. Perhaps if anything worries me it’s maybe keeping up with all the new tech that’s constantly emerging.
What excites you the most?
AI is what’s really exciting me at the moment, in particular the accessibility of it. Through platform products like Google Dialogflow we can create natural conversations with people to help solve their problems, without having more human hands on deck. AI features in a lot of the platforms we use, which is incredibly helpful in removing some manual or time-consuming tasks. It frees up our time, so we can focus more on creative work and problem solving for our clients.
What’s your scariest prediction for the future?
Trump winning a second term.
If you could go back in time, what’s one technology advancement you would rave about to your great grandparents?
To me it has to be the internet. My great-grandparents would have lived in the first half of the 1900s, and I think it would be hard for them to even comprehend. The digitisation of information and democratisation of knowledge has transformed whole industries — from entertainment and advocacy to research.
What do you think New Zealand will look like as a country in 2038?
It sounds like a long time in the future, but 20 years isn’t that far away. We might just have an inner city rail loop and maybe a motorway to Hamilton by then! We’ll probably have around six million people living here, and certainly many more will be wanting too.
And from a tech point of view, it will be very, very different. Transport will be the biggest change — self driving vehicles will be a standard, perhaps with new shared-ownership models dropping the amount of vehicles actually owned. There will also be a change in the work we do. Working less, either through shorter working days or a shorter working week. With this we’ll be enjoying more leisure time and more time at home with family.
What’s your social media usage like?
My day actually starts on Twitter. I probably spend 5-10 minutes skimming the latest tweets for any new or interesting stories, news, creative work or tech. Those that look interesting are either retweeted, shared directly via email or posted on Slack internally at our office. LinkedIn is probably the next site that gets attention. Again, looking for interesting stories and news. I’ll look at my Facebook/Instagram feed from time to time. And lastly, on the very odd occasion, I’ll be in Snapchat too (usually when one of my girls sends me something — I get nothing from my son!).
Do you try to limit how much personal information is available about you online?
No, but I know I’m not normal. My philosophy has been that more tailored information or ads are better. Advertising is hard to get away from — so you may as well see stuff that’s more interesting to you.
What will be dead in the next five years? (Products, companies, trends, etc)
Banner ads, hopefully. Banner ads are probably the lowest form of advertising. They are easy to ignore or block, lack engagement and don’t drive real results. Let’s just move on.
What does your ideal robot look like?
Even though I’m old school, I’d have to go with BB-8 over C-P30 or R2-D2. Sorry.
Will the robots become sentient and kill us all?
It’s got to be a possibility so let’s be kind and not upset any bots out there.
How likely is it that we’re living in a simulation?
Always possible – choose the red pill.
How far should we take human enhancement? (Bionic limbs, computer chips in brains, designer babies)
We’re always going to push the limits and I think we’re already seeing this. Some enhancements are great in the way we can eliminate, limit or overcome physical challenges. Just look at Liam Malone and his success at the Olympics. Personally I don’t like the idea of artificial enhancement, but there are entire industries built around cosmetic surgery today, so I think this will come down to a personal choice.
What’s the best use of a chatbot you’ve seen?
Siri. While not a chatbot, it’s a nice, natural voice application. I personally think voice is going to become a much more important interface.
How would you feel about interacting with a chatbot fuelled by a deceased loved one’s texts and social media posts?
I don’t think that sounds like a good idea.
What about being a part of a social credit system, Black Mirror style?
We’re already there aren’t we? My uber rating is 4.69. What’s yours?
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To read what’s keeping other industry folk awake at night, click here.