Technology as we saw it
Fear is in the eye of the beholder.
Technology is not meant to scare,
it’s actually not meant to elicit any specific emotional response, except dramatically affect us in the way we want. Especially with the influx of social media and big data, it’s easier and easier to see where market trends are going and to predict what the market will want next. Digital technology is just a slave to the market, as the market is a slave to humanity.
A particular beauty of digital technology is the ability to compound actions by creating complex if-then statements. These statements require input to come into action in the first place, and we are the only ones capable of doing so. On a minute scale, CEOs are hiring managers to hire recruiters to hire coders to code what managers are hearing from what the CEO is understanding about the market. We are the market influencers that direct the way innovation goes.
I’ll give in to a few outliers that, I’ll claim, are/were “ahead of their time” and were the stereotypical crazy scientist that invented like mad. To me, they were just throwing ideas to see what sticks; which, if that’s the case, the only ideas that stuck, and were adopted into society, were ideas that society deemed desirable. I’m trying hard to find the exception to the rule, but I don’t think, for once, mad scientists are it.
The Market is a growing organism larger than the sum of the whole. I suppose we’re all slaves to it, in that we’re all trying to find our own ways to satisfy the market. Whose enslaved to whom, I do not know, but I can tell you technology is obedient to its creator, while the Market and us have a direct correlation.
When markets veer off a guided path, it’s due to unattended complacency. The people begin to take things for as they are, because they are expected.
Look at what’s happening right now.
Everything is an app that is “the ____ of ____!”, “the Uber of mass transportation!”, “the Dark Souls of indie storytelling!”- but I digress. No really, what is being made here? Yes, marginalized efficiencies do benefit us. Lyft is just a cab you can call. There’s nothing new, nothing inventive there, it’s not true 0 to 1, it’s just 1 to n. Would you say the Internet was 0 to 1? Well, no.
Wait, what? How is creating man’s largest man-made infrastructure not 0 to 1? This is the thing that took all of [insert however many years you believe we’ve been on this earth] years and it’s not 0 to 1. What is truly inventive about it? The actual brainstorming and work of Tim Berners-Lee is not being downplayed here, a true modern-day hero, but what was going on inside his head?
“Man, I wish I could do this thing where
I can connect to someone on the other side of the planet just like I can do in person.”
That’s not inventive, that’s innovative.
- create or design (something that has not existed before); be the originator of.
“he invented an improved form of the steam engine”From the world’s dictionary, dictionary.com, and I state, “create or design (something that has not existed before).” Okay, yeah, “the Internet” has not been invented before. “‘he invented an improved form of the steam engine.’” Was the improved steam engine called steam engine 2.0?
- make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.
“the company’s failure to diversify and innovate competitively”Wait- huh? Make changes in something established? Like, improving a steam engine?? You see how the operative is being piggybacked off noun? That’s innovation. Tim Berners-Lee didn’t invent communication, he improved it. Hell, the Internet is just an evolved form of ARPANET. (That’s a toughie because packet switching protocol is data communication is communication, so still accurate for you, nerds.)
Has man ever truly invented? When was the last true invention that comes to mind? The light bulb? Harnessed energy, operative-noun relationship. Bread? Mixed wheat? I’m starting to stretch here, but even look at fire- the pinnacle of man’s inventions, or is that the wheel? We’ll look at both.
- Fire — Man probably saw fire happening, naturally occuring, and knew he was in an environment that must be able to sustain this horrifying element. Thus began experiments striking everything until something lit. Did he invent fire? No, it’s an element, I thought we went over that.
- Wheel — Man probably saw rounded rocks rolling downhill, and understood the round rocks must be able to move easier than square rocks. So he worked diligently at crafting a conventionally rounded object to roll around. Did he invent round objects? EDIT: “Wheel” is an application of a rounded object.
Oddly, both examples show two opposite paths of “invention.” In one, humans saw the outcome of an event and tried to reproduce the event by their own means. In the other, humans saw an event as it occurred, and tried to reproduce the occurrence by their own means. As noble as both are, both are copy-cats. Humans are copy-cats. We are the masters of it. Were. We were the masters of it. Digital technology has allowed for us to copy/paste each other at unprecedented rates, but we’re only doing just that, copying each other. I think we collectively agree we collectively fear the unknown, and with unprecedented rates of innovation in the digital and virtual spheres, people are right to be cautious. It’s not inorganic, it’s not uncommon, and it’s not unexpected. It’s fine.
We’re entering an era of maturity and we’ve plateaued for a surprising amount of time creating frivolous, shiny things when we should be looking more for the ground-breaking invention. An innovation of an innovation of an innovation to the nth is what scares me. The stagnation that occurs from it has got to be the civilization-killer.