Friday, September 6, 2013

Technology and Surprises


One of the recurring themes in technology right now is the tug between what people think we can do soon with technology, versus what we cannot.

A part of the issue is in the past, we were told certain things would happen and they haven't appeared.  We were told technology would give us all this spare free time, and it has done the opposite as we work longer hours from anywhere.  We were told, technology would create new job opportunities, and for many people, it's taken them away.

Another part of the issue is that whilst technology has not done certain things that they expected, it has done other things that weren't even on their radar.  This then shocks people when they see something that already exists, which they thought was impossible.

A final part of the issue is people turn off to the reality around them.  For instance, the average American will forget that every 11 year old in the country has only ever known America to be at war.  The average Canadian 5 yr old has only ever seen employee pricing discount cars or equivalent.  The average UK teenager doesn't remember a time when there wasn't an epidemic of charity shops on the high streets.  

If people don't notice these things, they're not going to question what comes next.  If you don't question what comes next, you get surprised.  For instance, the average person has not considered what might happen if shop leases get too expensive for charity shops, and they decide to go the Amazon route with a central warehouse and online shopping.

Instead of trudging through a day to day routine, you need to ask where things are going.  If you don't do that, you'll get a technology surprise.