Opening address - Life, Work & Learning in the Personalised Century
If the twentieth century was the Mass Century - the age of mass media, mass production and mass marketing - the twenty-first is the Personalised Century. In future, everything from fashion to news to medicine will be technologically tailored to your digital profile. Data makes that possible, but it’s as much a cultural and psychological shift as a technological one. The old, top-down, one-size-fits-all models are out. We expect to be at the centre of our own universe.
In learning, that means demanding not just convenience of time and location, but content that feels relevant and useful, delivered with recognition of our psychological needs. In education: an individual curriculum for every student, designed by AI and packaged just as you like it. In the workplace: increasingly personalised content and learning experiences, created by algorithms. Are these necessarily good things?
Presenter of BBC Radio 4’s FutureProofing and author of Big Data: does size matter?, Timandra Harkness teases out the trends that are taking us into an increasingly personalised future. More importantly, she asks what we lose, when each of us lives in a world curated just for one. Can we truly learn and develop as individuals, when we’re increasingly insulated from shared human experiences and the challenges of a world that does not, after all, revolve around us?
Expect some surprises, some laughs and some uncomfortable moments as we consider the likely benefits and possible casualties of the personalised century.