Which of the two words would you attribute to technological progress today – reactive or responsive?
To react is to be hasty – to jump to a plan of action before gleaning all the facts. To respond is to gather the necessary facts, evaluate several courses of action and pick the best one available. The difference lies in sequence of those activities. Arthur Conan Doyle had the immortal Sherlock Holmes quote:
“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
We realize today that we humans aren’t quite the poster children of rationality we assumed we were. We have seen how free internet services fueled by ads can spiral into a cut-throat race for user attention. We also see how social media causes mental health problems and how centralized digital services are creating way fewer jobs than they are destroy. And yet, so entrenched are we in our reaction to these trends that we find it extremely hard to extricate ourselves out of these business models.
Technology exists to benefit humans as a whole. Let us start with that assumption. But what we are resorting to is to react to the shiniest new technological knickknack and integrating it into every aspect of human life. This phenomenon ratchets forward with internet, smartphones, artificial intelligence and every other shiny trend out there.
Our approach has been to place technological progress at the center of humanity. But we seem to have our priorities mixed up. Instead, we ought to place humanity at the center of technological progress.
Inspiration: Who owns the future – Jaron Lanier