Broader and deeper

Just when I am getting a bit tired of ChatGPT messages, another one comes along that attracts attention. A nice experience that ChatGPT asks a ‘human’ to help overcome the Captcha step, because the routine can’t do it itself (yet). I am not a robot. An AI routine that can take the next step in controlling humans. Not that I’m worried right now, but there will come a time when AI routines generates reports on how you and I behaved at work, in the supermarket or on the street. ‘You ran the red light – will you please respect traffic rules from now on?’  Instant feedback for you and the supervisor.

At the mid-April board meeting of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), the president reiterated what a great responsibility we have as information professionals. Technology is neutral – in the application we see whether it is applied well or not. An ethical discussion, increasingly in the realm of information professionals. Monitoring and controlling employees is a first step – some organisations are already thinking about implementing this. Using a chip in your arm to keep your diabetes under control? Gladly, that’s an existing application. Using that same chip to have your stress level adjusted by your employer? So that you perform better? It is already possible, but we do not (yet) want it – artists and theatre makers such as the Belgian Lucas de Man and Dutch Isil Vos incorporate it in their presentations for various organisations. And that produces beautiful and confrontational conversations.

The beauty of AI is also that you can use it to fathom very large data sets. Provided you give the routine the right parameters. Great for a Parliamentary Inquiry, where many thousands of e-mails and documents are delivered these days. Fine also for analyses on documents dumped in our public domain, such as the Panama Papers and the UK government’s Lockdown/corona files on their decision-making process, the Pfizer papers or the European eID database that also has a ‘criminal’ variant. You have probably seen the news reports on these?

So, the information professional’s profession is only getting broader and deeper. From ICT to information management to truth-telling to ethics. What amazing times we live in! Disruptive, accelerating and … very exciting.

Wouter Bronsgeest

(President KNVI)