The Future of Technology: People

Photo by Diana Feil

Could it be that technology is not the destination itself but a tool to get there? If so, then what do we expect the destination to be?

The Embodiment of Innovation

I recently saw a documentary about Steve Jobs and how he founded a company that today is considered one of the most innovative tech companies in the world.

Apple has been on my radar ever since I was first introduced to their products at my aunt’s home about 17 years ago. She had the iMac G3, which she used for her work as a graphics designer.

Photo by Values of Design, Design Society, Shekou, China

It caught my eye, and she showed me how it worked. I was impressed by its different OS, and I was especially in awe of its design.

Every time we visited her, I asked if I could use her iMac. I wasn’t doing much more on it besides playing games, but the experience of it was a thrill. I was using a beautifully designed piece of technology that was way ahead of its time and different from anything else in the market.

Those moments getting to know Apple through its flagship product became rooted in me as the embodiment of innovation.

Years later, when I went to graphics school myself, I was exposed to Apple computers yet again. There were newer models of the iMac then, and as I started to use them at school, I fell in love with Apple’s simplicity and the effectiveness of its OS.

Apple worked hard to perfect the user-friendliness of their computers, and in 2005, during my first year at graphics school, I became convinced that I should never use anything else but Apple’s products. I became an Apple believer, and shortly after, I acquired a Mac Pro and an iPod.

A Sense of Belonging

You see, Steve Jobs wasn’t selling me on how Apple’s products were nice alternatives to consider. He was selling me on what I would experience by aligning myself with technology that, through its beautiful form and function, could keep me entertained, no matter how boring the task I was using it for.

This is why the brand has had so many followers who look to Steve Jobs as their messiah. In addition to people wanting to root for the underdog and rebel, he made people feel things they hadn’t experienced before. Steve was a subscriber to the counter-culture, so by following him, I became part of it as well.

Sculpture by Gareth Knowles

Therefore, Apple gave a sense of belonging to its customers. This was something no other company had managed to do as successfully as they’d done. Fast forward to now: Apple has perfected their strategy and have established themselves as too big to fail, despite the change of leadership and disappointing sales numbers in some of their recent product launches.

The legend is too grand, their branding is too sacred, and their customers are too loyal. It would take a mountain full of setbacks for Apple to no longer be an aspect in everyday life. But this is exactly where the issue lies with Apple and technology in general..

Man vs Machine

What was once a visionary company with the intent on making the world a better place has now simply become part of the mainstream, the copied and copier. The world has moved at a fast pace and others have started to “think different” too. So much so that to think and do different has become the standard in product development and marketing.

It’s all done with the purpose to drive sales, not to serve humanity and to make the world a better place to live in. One can think differently, but if it doesn’t serve a purpose for the good of others, then why even bother in the first place?

Technology is no longer being made and used as a tool to help mankind evolve. Instead, mankind is now being used to help technology evolve, regardless of the effects it has on everyday people.

Source: Appalling working conditions sparks Amazon worker protest

Steve Jobs was a visionary; he wanted to impact the world. He wanted to see how big of an impact technology could have on the world. He succeeded, and along the way, he made people’s lives easier. Unfortunately, the fruit of his invention has become part of the problem and not the solution.

What Steve did was necessary. We had to find out if we as humans could adapt to fast-changing technology on a mass scale and if we could be significantly changed by it as a collective. We found out that both are possible. It’s what’s been happening to us over the last two decades.

However, the time has now come to find out if we can bring people back to their roots, back to their natural way of life, and back to their connectedness with their surroundings by using the same desire to innovate with technology. But this time, we need to do it with the intention of healing instead of entertaining.

Meaningful Technology

We need to steer technology into a tool that can help mankind find meaning and evolve as a better species. We need to ask ourselves, in which areas and for what purposes should we develop better technologies? We also need to find out where we need to drop it entirely and pull the plug. We need to look at value as an end-result and not profit, although I do believe that one shouldn’t have to exclude the other.

You see, we are at an important crossroads. We have the choice now to be mindful of technology and to control it at a deeper level of purpose (utopia) before it controls us and there’s no going back (dystopia).

Utopia/Dystopia by Dylan Glynn

Steve Jobs was a messiah. He was the first prophet of the modern age of technology. He showed us that when there’s a strong belief and uncompromising dedication to manifest the impossible through technology, we can achieve anything.

Now, the time has come for a new prophet to stand up — a prophet who delivers us the lessons that brings Steve’s in full circle. Only then can we understand why it’s important to build more conscious technologies that focus on meaning instead of convenience. This new prophet could come in the form of an idea, a company, or a person. It doesn’t matter, as long as we spot it early and help it to manifest.

In the end, we need to be contemplative about the things we do and support from a tribal perspective — the tribe of people. As with all things, just because we can doesn’t mean we should.