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What Keeps Me Up At Night: Method's Sam Ramlu

Method managing director Sam Ramlu shares what keeps her up at night in a new series in partnership with Tech Futures Lab.

What worries you the most about technology?

I’m not sure if it’s the technology that worries me or the way people use it or may use it. And I don’t just mean people using it maliciously or to do harm but just the jumping on the bandwagon that happens when any new technology launches. For example, take the AR and VR space currently, there is a lot of money and investments being thrown at companies internationally and we’ve seen a lot of people who are suddenly experts in this space. It cheapens the industry with bad and nonsensical experiences and in turn makes consumers question the quality of AR and VR as a whole.

And then there’s the usual answer that technology seems to somehow bring us closer but further apart all at the same time.

What excites you the most?

Just the immense potential of what we have available to us now and what’s possible in the future. I love how much good can be done with technology and am looking forward to seeing some amazing medical advances in the future.

And also, these sort of stories.

On a personal level, we’re creating more amazing experiences in the cultural, storytelling, and education space using augmented and virtual reality and this is just something that’s so wonderful to be a part of. Bringing stories to life and engaging audiences has been our mantra from day 1 of Method (almost 15 years ago – eek!) and I love that we can continue to do that, especially now, with technology that is much more immersive and awe-inspiring.

Also seeing our son grow up with the best of both worlds is great – I particularly enjoy it when we mix a traditional medium with a new one – this just enhances the experience. An example being books with augmented reality and historical stories and events recreated through animation, AR, or VR.

What’s your scariest prediction for the future?

Pretty much just the Ready Player One scenario. Book was good (80s references made it!) but how awful would it be to never meet and talk to someone face to face. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are days I just want to walk around with my head down and not interact with anyone, but humans are social beings, and being social is much more than posting thoughts and comments on Twitfacegramchat. (Use them all myself so not judging!) 

If you could go back in time, what’s one technology advancement you would rave about to your great grandparents?

Looking around me as I answer this question I see my iPhone on the table, am working on my laptop, dishwasher running in the kitchen, and a smart TV screen looking ominously black in the lounge – none of these I had while growing up. Wait – this one’s actually super easy – dishwashers! Never having to wash dishes (those pots are annoying though) beats everything.

What do you think New Zealand will look like as a country in 2038?

Even more diverse than it is now, which I think is awesome. Hopefully more inclusive, more tolerant, much more equal. In terms of technology I think we’d just be much more recognised on the international landscape and hopefully have lost that small country treatment.

What’s your social media usage like?

It varies from a lot to excessive! But it depends – I tend to check everything in the morning – Twitter, Linked In, Insta, Facebook (much less Facebook than I used to) which is a habit I’m trying to break – specifically I’m trying to cut Facebook even more – it’s such a timesink! But also, where else would I go to find out which Harry Potter character I am?! (Always Hermoine.)

Do you try limit how much personal information is available about you online?

I think so but I do also share a lot of pics of my son (his cuteness needs to be shared) and of when we’re out and about or traveling, so maybe not as much as I think.

The good thing is that most of my info is Method related so anyone searching for me will get work related info which is boring I imagine. Unless it’s for industrial espionage purposes, in which case we’re doomed.

And what about this article? There’s a bit of personal info in here…this is now for all to see in the interweb and everyone will know my thoughts on robots…

What will be dead in the next five years? (Products, companies, trends, etc)

Not naming names…I think the traditional car companies will struggle but they won’t necessarily be dead. '80s revival will probably be dead, we’ll move on to the '90s. Certain social networks might no longer exist. Checkout counters at supermarkets – online shopping is such a godsend, why anyone goes to a supermarket these days I have no idea!

What does your ideal robot look like?

Like a ‘robot’ and not human at all. That one from Rogue One was cool - the Iron Giant looking one. He was funny as well which always helps when it comes to robots.

Will the robots become sentient and kill us all?

Possibly sentient but no I don’t think they’d kill us. We’d all be friends and live in harmony.

How likely is it that we’re living in a simulation?

It’s definitely possible. There’s a great movie I always harp on to everyone about – Thirteenth Floor. Actually, maybe it’s not so great anymore, it is about 20 years old or something. But anyway, it was good at the time. Keen to hear from anyone who has watched it!

If we are living in a simulation, does it really matter? If we don’t know any better and are living awesome lives then who cares if it’s real or simulated. Though for those who aren’t having such a great time, they’d probably disagree with this statement.

How far should we take human enhancement? (Bionic limbs, computer chips in brains, designer babies)

I think it makes sense when someone’s lost a limb or needs a heart condition repaired (shameless plug for a great little charity helping Kiwi kids – Heart Kids New Zealand) but I’d prefer we didn’t go any further than that. Do we really need designer kids?

How would you feel about interacting with a chatbot fuelled by a deceased loved one’s texts and social media posts?

I don’t like the idea of it at all. My partner posts once in a blue moon and it’s always something random so the chatbot would create some weirdo with an obsession for disasters and one word answers – “Yes”, “Ok”, “Wow – earthquake”, “What a storm!” And then if it was my dad it would just be a whole lot of random tags on people I met when I was 2. No thanks.

What about being a part of a social credit systemBlack Mirror style?

I feel like we do this to an extent already. Not overtly like what we’re seeing in China, but there are ways in which we are valuing social profiles, connections, and likes. One example is job interviews – are you more likely to get an interview depending on what your Facebook or LinkedIn profile shows? Generally I don’t like the idea, but think we will be doing this more and more and almost without even realising it. 

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