TBWA’s cultural intelligence unit calls for a healthier tech-human balance in global study

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TBWA’s cultural intelligence unit calls for a healthier tech-human balance in global study

Today Backslash, the cultural intelligence unit of TBWAWorldwide, released a global study examining society’s complex relationship with technology. The findings revealed that people are incredibly conflicted about the growing role technology plays in their lives. While 82% of people agree that technology has been a benefit by saving them time or money and making them more productive, 51% say that screen time negatively affects their physical and mental health. At the same time, the majority (52%) of people are concerned about the direction new technology is headed. These concerns come as technology becomes more immersive and further integrated into the most personal aspects of people’s lives.


Says Cecelia Girr, director of cultural strategy, Backslash: “Where personal technology once was simply external hardware that helped us navigate the world, it has now become our world. We live in tech. Work in it. Play in it. And while we’re coming to resent tech’s hold on us, we also realize that we can’t live without it.”

Says Sandie Dilger, CSO at TBWALondon: “These results clearly show that there is a fear around the impact technology is having on our lives. But instead of seeing this and accepting a Skynet style cataclysmic future, we can use these findings as our wake-up call. Instead treating them as a huge opportunity to find disruptive ways to use technology make people’s lives, and the world, better. And the thoughts in this report are a great place to start.”

These insights and more are covered in Backslash’s newly released zine, which asks, “Can Tech Rewrite Its Wrongs?” To answer that question, the zine zeroes in on the four areas under greatest threat from technology—privacy, health, identity, and reality. These are also among the fastest-growing tech conversations, as validated by social listening data from NetBase Quid.

More than an observational report, the zine outlines clear opportunities for businesses to get on the right side of tech’s history. Some of the topics covered include:

Digital Nutrition: A conversation with AeBeZe Labs about why we need to treat our tech intake more like our food intake

  • – AeBeZe Labs has created a range of tools to help people understand and improve their digital diet—including adigital nutrition table and a Rise app that lets you browse content by mood. AeBeZe’s founder, Michael Moskowitz, believes digital nutrition labels will eventually be as common as calorie labels on menus.

The Emotional Frontier: A look at how emotion recognition technology is altering our world

  • – From mood forecasting wearables to emotion recognition surveillance, our once-private feelings are being monitored, predicted, and exploited in entirely new ways. And it’s only the beginning. According to Allied Market Research, the emotion detection and recognition market is expected to reach a whopping$103 billion by 2030. But what happens when tech encroaches on the very thing that makes us human, the most coveted resource of all?

Artificial Creativity: An exploration of how AI can enhance human creativity—not replace it

  • – Giant leaps in the progression and availability of AI models are driving a shift from purely logical, task-oriented applications to more artistic, previously impossible outputs—challenging our ideas of “real” creativity. But while much of the world is resisting AI’s ever-expanding role, TBWA is welcoming it.

How to Die Digitally: Why securing your digital assets will be next big thing in end-of-life planning

  • – According to Backslash research, 52% of people are concerned about who will have access to their digital assets and accounts when they die, but only 33% of people have actually done something about it. It’s time digital afterlife moves up the tech agenda.

Says Alyson Stevens, head of connected intelligence, TBWAWorldwide: “With every company now a tech company, this isn’t about putting the onus on a single industry. Every business will have a role to play in rebalancing our relationship with technology, and it starts with creating digital experiences that enrich instead of exploit.”

While the zine primarily focuses on implications for brands, Backslash is also asking readers to consider how their own actions are shaping the future of technology. To do that, it has partnered with award-winning innovation agency dotdotdash to create a digital experience that helps participants unpack their personal relationship with technology. Enter the simulation here to find out where you stand.

The full zine can be downloaded now here