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Having been in IT for over 30 years I have witnessed many cycles of digital transformation. The biggest was advent of the Internet which created huge new opportunities for interconnection. The companies that now dominate global business such as Facebook, Apple and Google have tapped into our human desire to communicate and access knowledge at the touch of a button.

But we are now seeing the downsides at first hand. The damage done by lightning spread of disinformation, the scams we see every day in our email inboxes and on our mobile phones, and the invidious coded exploits by smart criminals of the complexity we have created.

I loved the movie the Matrix, which pitted a group of trusty heroes against a highly complex digitally created world. Far fetched maybe, but consider some of today’s advice from those committed to our security:
Never click on an unsolicited email link or open an attachment
Never respond to a text message with a link regardless of who appears to have sent it
Never give away personal details over the phone to someone you do not personally know
Avoid connecting ‘Smart’ devices to the internet (a contradiction?)
Spend time every week (will it soon be every day?) applying security patches
We can do most things online now, its so convenient. How can we retain that convenience but make it safer? One thing is for sure, if we do not start seriously considering how to achieve this our confidence will continue to be eroded.

You may think self-driving cars will be a great benefit to us all. Personally, it scares me because each car will be a highly complex online computer on wheels and as such very vulnerable to the smart, organised bands of cyber criminals. I will drive myself thank you, and make sure nothing in my car is connected to the internet!

I often think back to the local bank manager, a post which no longer seems to exist. Many communities don’t even have bank branch anymore. How much of a headache it now is to open a bank account or take out a loan? Once upon a time the local bank manager knew his customers personally and vouched for their credentials. I am not suggesting we go back to that, it was of course a recipe for cronyism and corruption. But surely there is a happy medium, bringing back face-to-face contact as at least part of the decision-making process?

The pandemic has taught us that we can work remotely, but no-one is advocating this should become the norm, as at the same time it has also taught us that we need face-to-face contact and teams need to get to know each other socially to really perform. We did not create cities and tower-block offices for nothing.

I am fascinated to see how the Happy Medium evolves. I know that we are at least all aware of the dangers of building our society around digital and look forward to a ‘new normal’.