Our friend Henry Zee (now residing in Las Vegas who just attended the Consumer Electronics Show) is excited that 2017 will be the Year of Technology. It may well be true that technology will shape the narrative of not only 2017 but many more years to come. But instead of sharing his excitement, I am fearful. Having lived and worked in the Silicon Valley virtually all my adult life, I have turned from being a cheerleader to a critic (or at least a skeptic) of technology.
Take for example the Amazon Echo, an always-on digital assistant that on surface only begins responding to voice commands when it hears the wake word, "Alexa." My understanding is, since the device is constantly listening for the wake word, it records and sends ALL data back to the Amazon cloud server. This is Amazon digitally spying on you! (Worse, under pressure, Amazon will turn over all that data to any requesting Intelligence agency.)
The Amazon Echo is only one of the ever-growing numbers of smart devices that constantly listens and record data about your every movement, habit, conversation and who knows what else. Any exception to your pattern being monitored will result in those who spy on you to judge and interfere, without verification against misinterpretation. Remember the last time your credit card was blocked when you try to purchase a big ticket item like a major appliance (because it doesn't fit your daily pattern)? Things will get much worse.
But it isn't just the “tech overlords” like Amazons and Microsofts, or Big Brother; criminals obviously are also interested in such a gold mine of information on your habits and movements, with motives from the mundane (burglary, blackmailing) to the insidious (use your hacked "smart" appliances for Distributed Denial of Service attacks, spamming, and other malicious purposes:
Automation of the factories (by “dumb” robotics) was barely news when it was, whose social consequences (the bottom half of the middle class was permanently decimated) were/are hardly discussed. Michigan (and other regions like the Appalachian) are still in depression conditions today but do we get a lot of coverage on that by mainstream media? Of course not. Automation of the white collar workforce is just beginning (via “smarter” AI), and will render a much larger portion of the global populace financially destitute. The top half of the middle class will be permanently decimated, once again quietly. In the end, there will only be the 1% left with all the wealth transferred to them. 99% will be turned into (my previously mentioned) “Precariats” and “Daddy Government's beggars” living on food stamps.