Calm the Tech Down – Sibos Day 2

Sibos Day 2 was a hectic day, starting off with a breakfast with Sir Tim Berners Lee (the inventor of the World Wide Web), which was supposed to be followed by a session on APIs in Financial Services – but that was full. So i went to the Cap Gemini World Payments Report session (more on that next week) instead, after which i checked out a couple of payment hub vendors in the exhibition area. In the afternoon, i joined a presentation on Global Payments Transformation, SWIFT Security Attestation, Blockchain and Payments and lastly a SWIFT Institute talk by Amber Case titled Not All That Glitters is Gold: Avoiding Fear Based Technology Decisions. It’s fair to say that i was cream-crackered.

In and amongst the crazy Sibos bingo buzzwords of FinTech, Blockchain, DLTs, APIs, Open Banking and PSD2 – it was a refreshing, calming, relatively jargon free reality check and warning by Amber Case that you must not get carried away with technology. Check out Principles of Calm Technology and The World is not a Desktop for full details, but following is a quick snapshot of the key messages from today’s session

What the Tech Are You Talking About?

Amber made the case that many technology terms are categories which need to be better understood, and encapsulate multiple types of technology. For example, AI is a suitcase term, with lots of luggage in it!

We Don’t Need Smart Devices, We Need Smart Humans – Mark Weiser

So here, Amber talked about new technology arguing that just because it’s new, it doesn’t mean its good and must be adopted everywhere. Quoting the Cisco 50 billion devices will be online by 2020 statistic Amber talked about some of the needless technology around a fridge – e.g. fingerprint authentication to open your fridge door - and went further to say that sometimes you need the least amount of tech in devices. Ideally you would have technology that works well in sub-optimal conditions so that it is tried and tested.

This is an era of interruptive technology proposed Amber, and rather than giving humans more time back technology has become all consuming,With too many devices, humans lose attention and technology becomes the primary focus and as a result we need a calm technology

Pay Attention – Calm Technology Considerations:

  • Technology should not require all of our attention, just some of it
  • Technology should empower the periphery (your periphery attention)
    • In a car, our primary focus is on the road, second focus on gear stick, and third focus is on the pedals
    • With a phone, it (the phone) becomes our primary attention and that could be dangerous
  • Technology should inform and encalm
    • For example by making the invisible visible by creating awareness through different senses (using a status indicator) – e.g. making a cold pipe turn blue and hot pipe turn red
  • Tech should amplify the best of tech and the best of humanity
    • Humans shouldn’t act like machines and machines shouldn’t act like humans
    • This would free up human time so we can concentrate on things we know best
  • Technology can communicate, but it doesn’t need to speak
    • For example, simple light indicators do exactly what they need to
  • Technology should consider social norms
    • Humans deal with technology in different ways:
      • Whatever is normal becomes invisible – e.g a camera on your phone
      • Whatever is restorative becomes accepted – e.g a prosthetic leg
      • Whatever is enhanced makes people nervous – e.g. google glasses contained too many features and as result people were not engaged with the product. In fact, people were scared by the product
  • Right amount of technology is the minimum amount needed to solve the problem
    • Good examples incvlude street lights, toilet occupied sign – they are so common now, they have become invisible – or ubiquitous
  • Technology should work even when it fails
    • The example Amber gave was the escalator, when it fails it becomes some stairs (a bit of a headache, but still workable)
    • Process as much as possible on the device itself
  • Good technology design allows people to accomplish their goals in the least amount of moves
  • A persons primary task should not be computing, but being human
    • Here Amber quoted Mark Weiser – The scarce resource of the 21st Century won’t be technology, it will be our attention.

Keep Calm and Carry On :)

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