Many of us think that our government already spends too many of our tax dollars protecting us from ourselves. It’s one of the reasons President Donald Trump got elected. Now, there’s a new class of technology that is about to create a massive cybersecurity threat with consumer fraud that will give many in Congress the urge to create a new watchdog agency like the CFPB, but even bigger. Trump may have arrived in the nick of time.
Think of cybersecurity today as you would an 8-track tape player. And, think of 8-track cartridges as the equivalent of Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. Then, fast-forward about five years and imagine a digitized version of music delivery (as in iTunes) taking the form of a passive social medium embedded in an augmented reality world.
Setting aside whether you think this all sounds “amazing and awesome” or “nightmarish,” your augmented reality will be continually under siege by advertising … you will not be able to distinguish truth from reality.
Huh? Here’s what I mean: Many technology analysts predict that today’s concept of actively “posting” or “sharing” on social media sites will be frowned upon in the future and will be entirely replaced by an automatic passive stream of your life’s experiences, whereabouts, and media consumption.
This will amount to a 24-hour channel of “you” that is aways live, and always accessible to your friends and really anyone and will always be completely “authentic.” Any effort to actively post something will be seen as “manual editing” and will be broadly frowned upon by the crowd.
Your “YOU” channel will be generated by computer and will surface the highlights of your daily experience in ways that are algorithmically determined to reflect the “real” you as opposed to today’s “Facebook” you. Crowdsourced authenticity will keep your “YOU” honest.
In addition, we will all be riding around in an augmented reality where our experiences will be enhanced by suggestions for food, beverage, entertainment, transportation, relaxation, stimulation, elimination, learning, exercise, sleep, housing, shopping, clothing, etc., in ways that fit with our predetermined profiles so we will only get the things we "like" and none of the things we "don't like."
These two paths will merge to create a slew of social products and new forms of media advertising designed to entice you and the people following you on your journey. Whatever you are doing or consuming will become a catalyst for others' discovery as well.
This means that today's forms of paid customer acquisition over the web will become obsolete, and will instead be replaced by "product and experience placement." This will be great for "YOU" because the prices you pay for products and services will be offset by the exposure you bring to the brands you use. Essentially — the cooler you are, the bigger your network will be, and the better your conversion from viewers (CFV) measures rate. In other words, if you have a big enough following, you will get stuff for free.
For example, you take a trip to New York City in April, and your social network will instantly come to life. You will get recommendations for Big Apple navigation, events, connections, restaurants, friends, hotels — and then just as suddenly disappear when your trip is over to be replaced by your next passive network influx. Since you won't be able to edit, these networks will be trusted and become an effective form of empathy and truth.
Setting aside whether you think this all sounds "amazing and awesome" or "nightmarish," your augmented reality will be continually under siege by advertising and product placement, and more importantly, you will not be able to distinguish truth from reality.
If our inability to deal with current cybersecurity issues is any indication, our future augmented realty platforms will become giant petri dishes for fraud and misdirection. Imagine what happens to your cognizant awareness if you receive all of your "information" from Fox News, or conversely from MSNBC? It is one thing to be able to steal 1 million records from a company's database, but it is quite another to be able to continually manipulate and influence the direction of purchasing decisions of billions of consumers.
I am sure we will all be able to install cool software that will override unwelcome parts of our augmented reality experience and these will be fine — right up until the moment that the bad guys figure out how to work around them. In today's cybersecurity world, this usually takes about two days. I see nothing in the way of technological advances that will change or make it harder for bad guys.
The technology advances that have enabled this new social media world of spontaneous and copious information served up through our augmented reality platforms (our iPhone as today's version of the 8-track player) are exciting and loaded with opportunity for both consumers and entrepreneurs.
But we really need to slow things down a bit and seriously address the cybersecurity risks before we plunge ahead. Because if we don't, it won't be the cyber-criminals that will worry you — it will be our own government finding reasons to swoop in and "protect" us through yet another institution to monitor our behavior even more than it does now.
Whether it's the future of passive social media combined with augmented reality or our current inability to protect our national infrastructure (Russian hacks?), our businesses, and our institutions, we need to take these threats seriously and focus on implementing technology solutions that can deal appropriately.
If we don't start now, we will be forever doomed to this cycle of probe, attack, breach, exfiltrate, and conquer with no end in sight. And our federal government will be more involved than ever.