Against technology that limits users’ freedom of choice
Of the abovementioned applications, those that lack transparency and cannot be influenced by the customer are met with the highest extent of objection. The question of who is in control of personal data matters to the Leaders of Tomorrow and their position is clear: They want to stay and feel in control. This is a common theme in the survey results and becomes apparent in the answers to other questions as well: Mobile technology and filtering algorithms are also not unanimously appreciated for their convenience but spark skepticism because they restrict, patronize or simply interfere with a person’s free choice.
Have we reached a turning point?
In many areas, we have already become used to simply following recommendations that technology makes for us. We are, for example, fine with receiving information about “reality” that is no-longer shared and objective, but customized and tailored for each of us and many of us enjoy the convenience of preselected choice options, offered by algorithms. This raises the important question on whether we are still guiding technology or if technology has started guiding us. The Leaders of Tomorrow are very aware of the new types of constraints and dependencies that come with increasingly sophisticated technologies. Apparently, the younger generation is keeping an eye open for threats looming behind new technological developments – and demands changes that give back control to the users. They also see the risks arising from the behavior of people who are abusing the freedom of the internet and the power of new technologies – and want to see these risks mitigated by governments, companies as well as individual actors. Taken together, the survey results indicate that they do not embrace new technologies naïvely and unquestioningly, but with some skepticism and caution. Such a critical stance appears helpful when defining the scope with which new technologies should be allowed to take over control in our daily lives. Balancing the opportunities of disruptive technologies like AI with retaining more than a mere illusion of free choice will be an important challenge for the future. Whether the new generation of leaders will be up to it remains to be seen.