How to be your own robot?

(And why it's time to split-up Facebook?)

Below is a selection of the slides used in a talk by Sander Veenhof at TEDxAUCollege which took place on 13/03/2018, a few days before the widespread attention about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The talk was not a reaction on that news, but the origin of the talk are the worries that the impact of Facebook and other social media will grow even further, considering that we're about to enter the age of augmented reality wearables. Being not happy with the influence in the present, it seemed important to think of solutions to fix it and be ready for the complicated future ahead of us.

1. For decades we've been told that we will all be wearing augmented reality glasses in the near future. With announcements by the big tech companies including Facebook about their augmented reality plans, that future might indeed happen soon. It will cause Mark Zuckerberg to even further control our perspective on the world.

2. But shouldn't we be worried about that? We're not happy with the current influence of Facebook on our life, and it might get even worse in the future.

3. We're dependent on a black-box that's deciding what we get to see on our new feed and what not.

4. Some configuration options exists,

5. but these are too digital. Switching off is not really an option. Nor is quitting Facebook. We don't want to miss all of the features they offer.

6. We need more ways to configure Facebook to suit our needs and wishes. It's time to consider a split-up of Facebook

7. If we want to understand why things appear on our news feeds, we need to know what's stored about us. We want to be aware of our own meta-data too. By monitoring where our own content and data ends up, we can choose if and how we allow any profiling to happen. Perhaps we only decide to keep Facebook for its front-end interface.

8. If we're free to choose components, we can choose to avoid the untraceable Facebook algorithms, demand openness or pick a provider of a Machine Learning service that we trust.

9. If it's such an influential instrument in our life, it makes sense to know exactly which rules are active.

10. But as with human life, there are always exceptions to any rufle. If we're able to finetune the rules with our own personalized exceptions, the rule base can become really meaningful.

11. The need for transparency and freedom to choice is getting more relevant and urgent, because companies like Facebook are going to play a more prominent role in our life

12. We've gotten used to the smartphone as our personal assistent, guiding us towards appointments, even responsible for arranging some of our activities.

13. But with AR devices this guidance will continue during our activities too.

14. The classic example is dating, which will become highly efficient and effective if we're being mentored througout a date based on real-time analysis of data coming from connected wearables such as our heartrate sensors or fitness watches.

15. With bulky uncomfortable devices that seems highly unprobable, but some new AR devices have a regular size and look.

16. The big tech companies can't wait for this future of the connected human. They are getting ready and filing numerous patents.

17. There will be a lot of new bussiness opportunities for them, being able to guide the behaviour of people.

18. With the help of an AR device, we can do everything ourselves. But what kind of DIY world is that going to be?

19. Looking at this in a schematic view, it's clear that something is not right. Tech companies using us and our data enabling them to control us.

20. It's time for an approach with humans at the centre, and an API to help us to be the one making decisions - and having options to choose from! With a growing ecosystem of life enhancing apps, services and components, we can choose how we want to be guided through the day.

21. You want to configure yourself. As a hands-on way to explore what that could mean, I've launched IFTHISTHENI.COM

22. With just a few basic rules, this system will not be comparable to the advanced algorithms of the big influential social media companies, but it's a start. Instead of awaiting what will happen to us, it's better to get started with the creation of alternatives.

23. We've already gotten accustomed to devices and software monitoring us and telling us how we're doing, this system is no different. Not feeling happy? By knowing what makes you happy, you're able to change it by reconfiguring yourself.

24. So a next time you see a group like this on the street, they might not be hunting Pokemons but they might be configuring themselves.

25. Or perhaps they are sharing their rules with each other, collaboratively working on a rule-base for humans in the age of digitally connected minds.

26. Get ready for the future: BE YOUR OWN ROBOT

In his talk Sander Veenhof will be discussing the implications of wearable technology and social media on humanity, and the new challenges facing the world. Humans used to trust our analog senses and intuition, but people are now getting used to trust the guidance of devices. In his talk, Sander will be inspiring us to think critically about the new rules we need to create for this new virtual world.