Why Aren’t We Using Tech to Our Advantage? – Info Gadgets
When I was five years old, as an experiment, I stuck a rolled up strip of aluminum foil into an electrical outlet.
In my mind, I imagined the foil would act as a “key” to unlock the “magic” that would burst out of the wall, like something out of a Harry Potter movie. After I’d unlocked this magical power, I planned to celebrate by dancing to my own rendition of “Thriller”. All in a day’s work, for a five year old.
Can you guess what happened next?
That’s right. Instead of a massive burst of “magic”, I was given a massive shock from 120 volts of alternating current. I “danced” to uncontrollable muscle spasms instead of mimicking Michael Jackson’s signature moonwalk. One might say, I was pretty thrilled. 🙂
Nevertheless, I was captivated by all the things that little face-shaped outlet could do. I thought, “How can something I can’t even see, come out of those holes and run our TV? How do I control that invisible ‘magic’ to do other things?”
It was at this early point in my life when I learned a hard lesson about science and technology.
Science can be helpful, but sometimes it can hurt. A lot.
When it happened I wasn’t scared and I didn’t cry (much). Instead of being afraid or crying about what had just happened, I felt more amazed and fascinated, than I felt pain or fear.
Fast forward about 30 years, and after being exposed to the real world of “STEM”, as we tend to refer to it now, I’ve done my fair share of “poking around in electrical sockets”.
I’m coming to the realization we are facing a much bigger version of this same lesson today. Here’s why.
We live in amazing times.
Right now. At this very moment in the modern world. We live like gods.
We can communicate with nearly anyone or anything on the planet at any time. We can predict and plan for natural events like weather and solar storms. Our food crops are planted, tended, and harvested by autonomous robots. Tiny devices we’ve created allow the deaf to hear, and the blind to see.
We’ve got more computing power in our pockets than Nasa in the 1960’s.
If we run out of toilet paper or Snickers bars, Jeff Bezos has got our back.
(Sorry to religious readers I might have offended out there. I’m just saying we live like gods, not as gods.)
The ubiquitous technologies of today, exists due to the numerous discoveries and breakthroughs in science. In addition to the thousands of years of collaboration, combined with the accumulation and sharing of human knowledge. While we aren’t really gods, having these abilities can certainly feel make us like one sometimes.
It is likely we are living during the best possible time in human history. Ever.
But, not so much…
There’s also dark side to the numerous tools we’ve created.
As human beings we’re subject to things that aren’t very godlike. Things like emotion, innate desires, and a subconscious that makes us do things we wouldn’t logically do.
You would think with all these “magical” powers at our disposal, that we would use them to solve big problems we have in the world.
It might be the first time in human history you can get toilet paper delivered to your house at the push of a button, but it’s also the first time in history we can wipe out our entire planet with a similar kind of button.
Even though we have more computing power and are connected more now than ever before in human history, we still don’t know how to make sure we’ll survive the next 100 or 200 years without succumbing to human (and probably avoidable) mistakes.
Practically speaking, we still face basic problems like how to continue powering our daily lives without blocking out the sun with smog.
Or, properly educating our children so we aren’t teaching them useless and outdated skills for 8 hours a day.
Or, ensuring we’ll all be able to eat clean, nutritious food without worrying if we’ll run out.
Or, updating our telecommuting tools and policies, so we can stop wasting hours in traffic commuting to and from work each week.
These problems exist, and we can solve them.
But as a species, we haven’t quite learned yet that any tool we create can also be used as a weapon, and any weapon can also be turned on its creator.
Speaking honestly as a human being, I’m a little worried.
Why aren’t we more focused on solving real problems?
Whether we like it or not, our modern world of science and technology is really under the control of just a few major corporations.
As mentioned in another Medium story I wrote, “Why Working in Tech isn’t Awesome”, the tech industry as a whole doesn’t really serve our best interests as human beings.
They’re basically using thousands of years of accumulated knowledge and decades worth of research and development not to solve the greatest problems of our time. Instead, their current objective is how to get you to buy more stuff you don’t need.
Peter Thiel, the famous Silicon Valley co-founder of PayPal once said:
“We wanted for flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”
Quite honestly, I don’t completely blame Zuckerberg, Bezos, Sergey and Larry, or their respective organizations. It’s not entirely their fault.
The blame is partially ours. The tech industry is merely following popular trends and utilizing more efficient tools and methods for giving consumers things they’ve been asking for. Its just good business.
We’re just human.
Like I mentioned, we are still just human beings with emotions and desires. In reality, we’re really just slightly more evolved monkeys with smartphones. We haven’t forgotten how to sling feces at each other when we get mad.
We, as a whole, are voting for what we want pay attention to. With our clicks and wallets. We’re asking for more content to entertain and not to educate.
What our monkey minds want are more cat videos and crushing things with hydraulic presses. We don’t care about the repercussions or hidden costs.
We just want faster, better, cheaper, and smarter stuff. And the tech companies have given it to us.
Yes, tech companies have utilized sneaky psychology hacks to tap into our subconscious mind to get us to spend more time on their platforms and ultimately buy more stuff.
But at the end of the day, its really our own fault.
Technically, the largest tech companies are publicly traded, and are beholden to the investors. If the public were motivated enough, it could get together and purchase a majority of the shares in a company like Google, and force their board of directors to redirect their resources into more important issues. Instead of investing in Google to push more Nissan ads, the public would only invest if they revamped the global educational system, or solved sustainable energy problems.
We could use the best minds of the world, backed by hundreds of billions of dollars in capital to literally change the world. Right?
But, we don’t.
So long as Google and Facebook are making money, so are the individual investors. No investors in their right minds would dare change a cash cow company making them lots of money.
Which is really sad.
Article Prepared by Ollala Corp