Please, no more 'reports'. Let's do this instead


Trust is at an all time low. This matters not just because trust disproportionately impacts bottom line business outcomes, but also because the relationship between data sharing and trust is becoming clearer. People want and expect control of their data. It’s no longer accepted that limited value is assigned to privacy. There is a tradeoff fallacy.

Our societies and economies are increasingly information driven. Information asymmetry, power imbalances and monopolies are threatening our ways of living. Individuals face increasing risk of manipulation, along with a variety of other harms that aren’t yet well understood. The ineffectiveness of the current model, particularly the lack of active participation from individuals, is resulting in billions of unrealised economic benefit.

With this as our backdrop, the question becomes: How might we design a verifiably trustworthy, highly competitive and humanity-centric information society that truly benefits individuals and communities around the world?

Building upon our work helping design information sharing ecosystems, like Consumer Data Right in Australia and Open Banking in the UK, this is the very question our team at Greater Than X asked. In our most recent report, we propose some answers.

A beautifully ambitious vision

Many information sharing initiatives lack a clear vision. We argue that technology exists to augment our abilities. It should ‘free’ us to spend our time on the most valuable, meaningful and engaging lifestyle activities.

In fact, that’s the very vision we propose: A future where technology supports us in such a way we’re able to maximise the amount of time we spend truly experiencing life’s most meaningful moments.

This feels like a ‘why’ even Simon Sinek could buy into.

So how do we get there?

A shared strategy, tactics and key measures of progress

To achieve this vision, active, diverse and intentional collaboration must be our focus. We need to work and learn together.

Specifically, we propose a platform ecosystem strategy that:

  • Encourages incentives alignment between individuals and organisations for the benefit of all participants
  • Leverages emerging technologies and standards to ensure privacy, security and meaningful choice for participants
  • Promotes diverse participation and experimentation by design, so that uncertainty can be tackled and decisions can be made based on validated learning

We support this platform ecosystem strategy with a series of enabling functions.

These ecosystem functions help achieve the three objectives above:

  1. An experiment and collaboration framework (how to do it)
  2. Trustworthy Technology (how to build it)
  3. Outcome-aligned incentive structures (a specific model to make this a reality)
  4. Data Ethics Frameworks (how to move beyond meaningless, principles based approaches), and
  5. Designing participant experiences (UX that empowers people to act)

Perhaps most importantly, we propose ideas for what we might value. We do this because current systems typically define metrics, then assign ‘value’ to them. This misses the point. Instead we should define what we value, then figure out how to measure it.
Doing this will increase the likelihood we optimise for socially preferable intentions and outcomes.

Why should you read the report?

We are all responsible for designing the future. In fact, many of us are in unique positions of power. As ‘designers’, we have the opportunity to impact choice architectures and the technologies that support a variety of societal functions. We have the opportunity to change people’s lives.

Bringing it into 2020

All of this content comes from a blog we wrote over a year ago. It briefly explains a ‘report’ we published.

Looking back, with our social dilemma still unsolved, with modern approaches to ethics washing becoming normalised and with limited shared perspective (it closed to blows my mind that we don’t seem to understand that we’re all the same species, relying on the same resources to survive and thrive…), it doesn’t feel like we’ve come all that far. Yet there is cause for hope. We’ve actually wrote about this recently. Even though all hope seems to be lost, there’s perhaps more momentum now than ever before that we can tap into, take advantage of and use to design the type of future we call out in the report.

The reason I’m revisiting this content is because reports really suck. Even ours. They – no matter how hard you try – are’t optimised for action. We need to move beyond reports. We need to move beyond blogs. We need to move beyond events. What we need is a movement that helps us take the tiny steps, day by day, that compound and eventually change our world for the better. This is why we launched Greater Than Learning. We, although inherently biased (every human is by definition), believe we are onto something. We are tackling a problem worth solving. We can work together to close the ethical intent to action gap that plagues society.

So… You can do two things:

  1. Read the report. There’s no data paywall. It’s yours to access without any strings attached, or
  2. Join the beta and become part of the movement I mention above.

The choice is yours.