Surrounded by the wonders of the digital age, we could be forgiven for thinking people are losing touch with their humanity. But it’s the exact opposite: as the level of technology around us rises, our appreciation of our humanity only increases.
Businesses that understand this apparent contradiction hold the key to the future.
The rise of technologies like artificial intelligence, automation, and virtual and augmented realities will continue to make technology a central part of our lives. What most of us seek to do with technology is find ways for it to help us to do more and be more.
The fears we have about enslavement to our smartphones, for example, are not that different to the old notions we entertained not so long ago about things like TV addiction. Many of us grew up with the constant threat from our parents that the ‘idiot box’ was turning us into zombies and that we should be reading books instead.
Television was seen as an all-pervasive and invasive technology that destroyed minds and families. And in some rare and extreme cases, this might have been true. As it would be for smartphones or any subsequent technology that becomes part of our lives.
The book itself is a form of technology that involved significant technical innovation to bring into existence, including the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press. It also changed our relationships to each other and the world around us in profound ways.
The thing is that we humans tend to get excited about new tools (which is essentially what technology is) and sometimes go a bit overboard in our embrace of said tools. However, what almost always happens is that we quickly work out how to fit these into our lives in ways that generally enrich and enable us to do the things we want to do, only in faster, better and more convenient ways.
Despite the massive angst about new technologies, most people use new technologies to educate and entertain themselves. We use it to reach out to those who are near and dear, and those we’d like to get to know better. We use it to laugh more and cry together. We use it to experience new things and revisit old memories.
And when we’ve had enough of technology, we turn it off and go for a walk on the beach, until we decide that sunset is just too gorgeous not to share with friends on Facebook.
As entrepreneurs and business leaders, don’t get hung up on the tech in technology. Look for the intersection where people and tech meet, and how people use it to live and improve their lives. Look for the human story, and remember that technology is just a tool that lets us discover our humanity even more.