Is Privacy a Barrier to Older Adult Adoption of New Technology?
Joseph F. Coughlin is director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab (http://agelab.mit.edu). His research explores how demographic change, technology and consumer behavior drive innovations in business and society. Coughlin teaches in MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Sloan School's Advanced Management Program. He is author of the new book The Longevity Economy: Unlocking the World's Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market (Public Affairs, 2017).
Face it you like your privacy. But little by little you have given it up for a little benefit here, a convenience there. Your life, home, auto and health insurers know a lot about you -- some things you don't even remember or knew were recorded. Schools and employers have a long paper trail that follows you for a life time. Have you ever thought about what your credit cards might say about you? How about what physicians and pharmacists have in their files? And, of course the Internet. For those who share even a little bit on the web it has become clear that there is no erase button for past comments, discussions or photos.
As we age and look to technology to improve our safety, security and overall well-being another user of personal information will be our homes, cars, maybe even our office chairs. These environments and devices will collect information and enable services that we (or our adult children) will elect to use to monitor, manage and motivate 'healthy' behaviors. These behaviors include the mundane such as making sure that we get up each morning, take our medication or that our refrigerators have fresh nutritious foods. Other systems may be a little more inquisitive monitoring changes in how we walk or fluctuations in our mood by conducting a daily analysis our facial expression each morning in the bathroom mirror.
As everything gets smarter around us -- from our toilets to our toasters -- will concerns about personal privacy hinder the adoption of technology and technology-enabled services by aging baby boomers?
In this video clip of remarks made at an AARP-Atlantic Monthly Magazine forum on technology and baby boomers I offer some thoughts on the price of privacy.
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