Perils of Market-Driven Technology

Updated: Feb 14


Here are 2 important questions we may want to ask as we plan the future:

  • What is our purpose ?

  • What is the purpose of technology ?

From those 2 questions, we can imagine the formation of many policies that will impact the social and technical sciences. The market is trying to explore both of these questions with gimmicks to generate attention.


https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/softbank-enters-the-cafe-business-with-new-robot-filled-pepper-parlor/


While this appears cute and somewhat humorous, it pokes at the very heart of the 2 questions. Each time we see or hear about the application and positioning of technology, I think about these questions. In this example, the robots appear to be displacing humans, providing entertainment and some primitive form of service. The problem is that of displacement rather than augmentation. The experience of being served (or receiving a service) can be uneven when people are involved, however, this is part of the anticipation and expectation that can create unique and memorable moments. Those should be preserved and augmented by technology. That is the real opportunity for innovation. If we look in the kitchen will we find people preparing the food and cleaning the dishes and taking out the garbage? Why not solve the problems of sanitation and cleanliness in the kitchen where so many cases of food poisoning and disease transfer occurs? The wait staff can be customer-facing and supported by robots/tech where the food can be brought over w/o forcing the wait staff to carry it and balance while they serve? 


Our challenge is to ensure technology serves human needs rather than displacing humans and forcing them to serve technology. The schools of thought (starting with the universities) are safe places to challenge business and policy leaders to consider these questions today so that there’s a purpose for humans tomorrow

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