As children we are filled with a sense of awe at becoming adults. We are incredibly optimistic about growing up and being adults. It will be wonderful when we are free to make our own decisions – eat what we want, buy what we want, go where we want. Then we grow up and discover that adulting is hard, often painful and requires hard decisions.
This is analogous to the state of technology in the world. I have always had a deep interest in technology and what it makes possible and when I moved into the field full time as a speaker 8 years ago I was blindingly optimistic about what all this new technology would do for the world. Social Media was igniting revolutions, forcing information into the spotlight and technology had the possibility of solving so many of the world’s ills. I was (and still am for the most part) a technology evangelist.
We now live in a world where social media has been weaponized to spread hate, to manipulate elections. Our personal data has been hacked and stolen and the large, seemingly benevolent, global technology conglomerates have become share-holder serving profit machines milking our personal data. The global pushback on technology is underway as regulators in the Europe and elsewhere try to wrench back some control. I believe this regulation is ultimately fruitless, but it is indicative that all is not well.
At the same time technologies such as AI, blockchain, robotics, AR & VR, 3D printing and others still have the capacity to bring incredible prosperity, happiness and health to world. There are real, world changing innovations arriving every day.
But. Technology is growing up and we are discovering that the amazing potential of being technological adults is tempered by the responsibilities and bill paying duties that come with it.
What this means, to me, is that we as individuals need to act like grown ups with our adoption and use of technology. We must be responsible for own our data, we must mature in our use of social platforms in both trying to parade a façade of “everything is fantastic” as well as how we engage in online conversation. The gleeful resharing of bullshit and casual fat, slut and body shaming can’t be an enshrined part of the mix.
There will never again be a world without exponential technology so there is no running away or unplugging from the grid. For better and worse we are in the 21st digital century. There is so much room for optimism and opportunity. But we also have bills to pay.