Are we one step away from ‘The Circle’?

The latest film from Netflix, The Circle, questions just how much technology is too much. Are Google, Facebook and other social media platforms on the brink of taking it too far?

Privacy is important and there needs to be a line to stop social media from being abused. With articles coming out on microchipping employees and Netflix echoing the sentiment should we be worried that this is the future?

The film, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, follows the journey of a young women who starts working at The Circle, a powerful tech company.

Slowly the young women becomes more entwined with her employers, the social media platforms and loses her privacy. As the employers gain more control and invent new technology the consequences are disastrous.

This subject is highly topical at the moment as Tesla’s Elon Musk and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg are disagreeing about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on humanity.

Musk is anti-AI and Zuckerberg is pro-AI. If you aren’t clued up on their argument have a great article that sums it all up and tracks the Twitter conversation.

This idea is gaining a lot of traction which is all pointing to the fact that this could be our future.

The people selling the idea are trying to make us think that it will lead to a more convenient, efficient and advanced existence.

The BBC has two great examples in its latest videos. One where a man in Hampshire is using a microchip in his hand to open his car and doors and one where a company in America is microchipping employees.

Steven Northam with an x-ray of the microchip in his hand CREDIT: SOLENT

Watch the videos here…

Would you be happy being microchipped? Although the one in the video above can’t be tracked, the potential for the technology is there. The microchips still could have access to your personal details, passport and bank. Is it convenience or just a way for governments to track and control the population?

Personally, this makes me feel very uncomfortable. I don’t want to be microchipped. It’s too intrusive and open to abuse. I understand the benefits and I can see how convenient having a microchip as a key or for your bank details would be but, I think I’m on the side of Elon Musk. 

Making microchip implants seem convenient and helpful it is a way of slowly integrating it into society so it is seen as acceptable. It’s the same way drones have been introduced as toys and for photography and now it’s moved into surveillance and security.

I don’t think microchipping, upping the levels of cameras and AI will have a good effect on people. I think that this could have a detrimental affect on humanity.

Although The Circle is fiction, it does raise some very important questions. Who is in control? Just how much of our lives can they see and have influence over? What regulation would be brought in to control AI and to protect our data?

Already this technology has had some negative side effects. Social Media in its current form has empowered trolls, is damaging mental health and gives companies detailed profiling on our behaviours and activity.

In Japan a lot of young people, especially males, get addicted to the internet and suffer from social withdrawal known as Hikikomori. Often the cause of this is increased use of social media and gaming reducing the need for actual face to face communication.

The Guardian and the BBC both have interesting articles that explain Hikikomori in greater detail.

A more interconnected world also has wider implications for businesses too. The more they know about our exact behaviour, likes and dislikes they better they can sell to us. It is about money and market dominance after all!

For public relations it means an increasing switch to ‘pay to play’ on social media platforms. It also means better and more detailed targeting and this is just the immediate future.

Microchips and AI might be a new way of disseminating press release information and targeting audiences.

Could PR be built into AI throughout social media platforms in the long term? Could AI be programmed to subtly introduce brands and themes to support and build companies reputation or manipulate the news?

Fake news has already been a big problem and new laws and changes to platforms are being introduced to stop  it spreading.

It’s clear that the possibilities for the technology are vast. It will be interesting to see how the technology developed will be applied.

What do you think of artificial intelligence and microchipping being a possibility in the future? Would you like a microchip in your hand? Would you like to be connected or tracked 24/7? Perhaps you own a business – can you imagine the responsibility of having access to that much personal data?

There are so many ethical questions around this topic that need proper discussion – I’d love to hear your views. Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

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