How Much Technology Is Too Much Technology?

How Much Technology Is Too Much Technology?

There are many visions of what our hyper-connected future might look like. We’re packaged countless variants on the shiny-techie-future vision theme every day as marketing departments lay it on thick to try to put gloss on their latest product and restless grease on the wheels of consumption. Thing is, these tales of shiny futures are not really that interesting. Given they are artless fictions. What’s far more interesting is how technology is being applied in the here and now — and how it’s already interacting with and impacting social structures. And if you look at those tell-tale signs then sure it’s possible to extrapolate some possible futures — some of which really aren’t very pretty at all. Technology replacing humans is one recurrent theme. We can argue about how many jobs are being destroyed by technology . But that’s sort of missing the point. Given that technology is a tool that people can apply in various ways, the number and type of human jobs that get replaced will, at the end of the day, be determined by us, not by the technology. Or, more likely, by the companies that apply technology at scale. Look, for example, at supermarkets and big box retailers replacing multiple (human) check out operators with ranks of self-service machines — with perhaps one solitary human overseer standing silently off to the side. Or Uber recruiting an entire university robotics department to try to accelerate the development of driverless cars . Because robots can’t protest a dwindling revenue share . Because robots don’t get a revenue share. But who wants to live in a future where every physical shop (if indeed there are any in such a technology-maximized scenario) is a self-service warehouse where the atoms in the drear air stir only to synthesized thank-yous spat […]