Is 2018 the year when we give up on technology and decide to return to more natural and traditional ways of working and living? Many bloggers, forward thinkers and erstwhile experts are keen to suggest that we’ve all had enough of impersonal technology and the looming ‘monster’ of artificial intelligence. ‘We’ve reached the top of this cycle’ someone suggested to me last week. Perhaps its time to downgrade our reliance on the dream of technological solutions to life’s problems. Information technology, the baby of the twentieth century, has given us a lot of headaches, after all.
Douglas Adams once mused that perhaps ‘[we’d] all made a big mistake coming down from the trees in the first place,…’ (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.) Of course, it’s tempting to believe that we can return to some previous golden age without ‘technology’. However, this return is no more realistic than closing the lid on Pandora’s Box. We can’t actually go backwards. You can’t uninvent, ‘un-dream’ or simply push technological and scientific developments into a corner and forget about them. I remember at school arguing for us to remove all nuclear weapons, as if it was possible just to pretend that they had never existed and go backwards to the past! In reality, there isn’t a path back through time whereby we can somehow undo all that has been.
So, what is this cry for a less computerised world all about? It’s perhaps not that we would like to lose all the benefits that have come our way in terms of communication, medicine, transportation and learning. None of us would be too happy to be without our everyday life supports. It’s probably also not about needing solutions to our problems. (Somehow, instant worldwide communication, cures for diseases, opportunities to fly into space and the power to conquer the world haven’t so far prevented unhappiness or pain.) I’d like to suggest that deep down we’re all feeling the need to connect with our world again, to find purpose and to relate better with those around us. Universal human needs that we’ve all searched for since forever.
So, a plea! Are you involved in technology, artificial intelligence, business, designing the future or solving technological problems? If that’s you, those of us who feel disconnected from the world have just one request – we would love to be ‘in touch with reality’ again. We’d like not to be ‘hassled’ by technology, but to find that it served us. We’re dreaming of the day when our complex lives are actually made simpler. What can you do for us? What can you deliver in 2018 that will really make a difference not to the surface of our already hectic existence, but to the heart of it? We’re asking you not to invent yet another way of saving time, synchronising our lives or sensationalising our leisure time! We’d love it if you genuinely made our mundane work easier, our day less full of struggle and protected the moments of calm that we do have against intrusions.
In short… LARGE REWARD OFFERED to the person who can develop technology that really makes a difference to our everyday lives, that helps us to touch reality again.