Tech is Still a Force for Good
Amidst the daily deluge of negative headlines, we pause to look the good that new technology is doing for society.
By Xische Editorial, August 25, 2019
Is technology bumming you out? The constant media cycle outlining fears of technological overreach can give the entire sector a negative connotation. Over the past year, we have wrestled with these fears and explored their associated challenges but that doesn’t stop us from having a bullish view on the benefits of technological innovation. When used correctly, technology is one of the greatest forces for good in human history. The crux is finding the right balance.
The best example of the dynamic is artificial intelligence (AI). AI is already part of our daily lives and the innovation happening in that space will shape the sector for decades. From songs we enjoy on streaming services to the films we select on Netflix, algorithms guide our lives every single day. And we keep making these algorithms smarter by dumping more information about ourselves into the internet. According to the technology investor and writer Scott Galloway, every sixth search on Google is a brand new question. Given the billions of searches that happen every minute on the platform, that statistic is simply incredible.
Internet technology will continue to get better (and smarter) as we feed the algorithms more information about ourselves. This fact, in and of itself, is nothing to panic over. People have always provided details about themselves in exchange for services. The fear many have now is that the companies dominating the internet don’t have our best interests at heart. They are private and make money through advertising (think about Google or Facebook in this regard). While they provide services we all depend on, they operate in the interest of the bottom line - not the public good.
That is the root of the fear but it shouldn’t prevent us from looking at the bright side. New technology is making life better for millions. Algorithms are helping solve serious problems facing the international community. AI is revolutionizing global farming and even helping startups create new foods to feed growing populations. In healthcare, AI is helping doctors get better diagnostics and literally saving lives. The sheer number of life-changing AI innovations in medicine is too big to list.
This is truly an amazing time to be alive. We might look at our smartphones too much these days but these remarkable pocket computers have transformed how humanity communicates and connects. Consider the realm of financial inclusion, which organisation like the United Nations say is critical for global development. The smartphone is a powerful tool in the hands of people that have lived on the margins.
For the first time, millions of people are able to access formal financial services through their smartphones. That means they can start saving for a child’s future or acquire medical services. On a simple level, it means people can finally protect their money by securely storing it digitally.
Rural communities in emerging markets are also adding data to the great algorithms of the internet. That means their specific data can help with better medical forecasting and disease prevention. Many of us might take these incredible smart devices for granted, we should consider how other developments are poised to create new transformations. Put in another way: It's okay to be happy about technology. Let’s embrace the challenges posed by our technological era while keeping our eyes open to the incredible solutions modern tools provide us.