No one really likes change, and that is particularly true of the workers’ compensation industry and its challenged relationship with technology adoption. The pandemic did much to remove barriers and accelerate technological change in the industry, but much opportunity remains. Systems are available that will tell claims professionals what must be done, and when. Processes that used to be largely at human discretion are now driven by automated systems and software. As an industry, we must get used to being told what to do by the computers that we ostensibly control.

Still, no one likes to get lectured by technology. That is true in our personal lives as well as our professional ones.

Screenshot of Bob's phone

A number of years ago, a few months after its release, my wife gave me an Apple watch for my birthday. Being a techie geek nerd (don’t let my charming personality fool you) I had wanted one since they were introduced a few months prior. The day after my birthday, I was driving in my car when the watch beeped, and I felt it tapping on my wrist. Clearly, it was trying to tell me something. I read the screen. It contained some incomplete circles and a message. The message told me I had not completed my required physical activity for the day, and suggested I step things up if I want to remain healthy and robust.

Techie geek nerd or not, the damn thing almost went back to the store that day. I still have that watch today and grew to love it in fairly short order despite its obsessive controlling behavior. We get along fine, as long as I do as I am told.

Last week, I had to purchase a new phone after my previous one had been dropped one too many times. Long being an Apple guy, I got an iPhone 12 Pro. While I believe it is using the same version of operating software as my previous iPhone X, it behaves differently in some ways. The most notable of those changes is that it has started lecturing me on the volume of my music. No less than 7 times this past week it has notified me that the music level I choose while on headphones is too loud, and I must turn the volume down if I want to avoid damaging my ears. It even seems to readjust the volume downward when I change playlists or songs. 

All this and I haven’t even been wearing any headphones. Stupid technology.

The problem seems to be that it believes the Bluetooth system I’ve paired it to in the car is instead a set of headphones. True, I will confess to liking my music loud when driving alone. I sometimes like it even louder when driving with others. But these choices are my own, and frankly, I don’t think it is any of my iPhone’s business. It was creepy enough when, leaving for the airport, my GPS app started asking me if I was headed to catch flight number XXX (I was), or that it now knows where I am headed based on my past travels. I meet a friend for breakfast the same day every week and participate in a pool league on Tuesday nights. The app now knows this and asks me if that is where we are going on those specific jaunts. 

Fortunately, it has not yet started telling me what I can eat at breakfast, or what I can drink on league night. That will certainly be a bridge too far. Besides, that is my wife’s job. 

Just like the parable about the frog sitting in a gradually warming pot, it is evident that technology, which was originally envisioned as an assistive concept, is going to be allowed to gain direction over what we do and the actions we take. In a professional sense, it will still be geared to keeping us efficient and compliant with the law. But in a personal sense, it will be a larger adjustment. No one likes being told what to do. And they don’t like getting lectured by technology.

Unless our watches tell us we should like it. We may then have to reconsider our resistance.

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