The technology divide is growing — don’t leave people behind
The Internet has been a great force in creating a more equal society. Today 3.5 billion people have access to the Internet in some form. It has democratized information, communication and education, created millions of businesses and touched on and improved so many lives.
However, at the same time the digital divide is about to increase again.
While speaking about the latest mobile trends I often get the question or comment that technology development must slow down at some point. “I cannot cope with more” people say.
The reality is the opposite. Technology innovation and the impact on society and our life’s is accelerating.
Over the next couple of years there will be more new technologies than ever to keep up with. Many people will choose not too or won’t have option.
What happens when someone doesn’t upgrade their phone every 2–3 years? What if you don’t download the latest apps for public and private transportation, healthcare, education, the messaging apps that people communicate with and make payments through the mobile phone?
The technology savvy and geeks are taking over. The most valuable and profitable companies in the world are tech companies. Amazon might become the worlds first trillion dollar company. The first trillion ire could become a reality within the next 20 years and it will be a tech entrepreneur for sure.
Political parties and leaders have an advantage because they understand how to use and leverage technology.
Artists, actors, authors, journalists and other creative roles are more successful if they know and use technology to their advantage.
Restaurants, bars and hotels depend as much on IT skills and social media as they do on the quality of their property and service.
Doctors and nurses that keep up with the latest development in their field provide better care to their patients.
Economists and statisticians that know how to use data visualization have a huge advantage in story telling and winning their audience.
Jobs go to engineers, preferably younger engineers as fresh skills are valued higher than experience by many organizations.
The world is slowly becoming cashless, local retail stores are closing and replaced with eCommerce, bank branches and ATMs disappear.
This is just the beginning. Because society is changing rapidly whether we like it not.
Computers leveraging Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning will be able to beat humans at almost any single skill within the next 5–10 years. This means that the computer engineers and the people that control the technology will have even more power.
Homes are becoming smarter but also more complex. Every device is becoming connected. Cars drive themselves. VR and AR may cause dizziness and headaches in the short term but will extend abilities in the long term. We have to get used to talking to machines, to controlling interfaces with our eyes and motion and eventually the machines will listen to our brainwaves.
Even if only half of these technologies come true within the next 10 years it will impact most people.
What happens if someone doesn’t want to be or cannot be part of this change? What happens to those who are disconnected?
They will be left behind.
As technology leaders we have a responsibility to ensure that this doesn’t happen. We need to make sure that technology is for everyone and that people don’t feel alienated by it. That it truly makes life better for everyone!
How can we contribute?
Here are a couple of ideas / suggestions on where to start:
• Create better products and services that solve real problems and are easy to use
• Spend a few hours every month teaching your parents / grandparents how to use new technology
• Volunteer to teach and share your knowledge online through videos or education for adults at a local community center for the unemployed or elderly
• Donate your old (not too old) devices to people who need them instead of leaving in the drawer and eventually throwing away
What do you think?
Do you agree that there is a problem? If not then why and if yes share your thoughts about how we reduce the digital divide.
DMI is starting a new initiative under the Moville umbrella to ensure that our customer engagements are inclusive of everyone. We will keep you updated about the progress.
This article is dedicated to my parents who gave me a big advantage in life thanks to early access to computers and learning to program. My father who’s now retired stays busy giving teachers access to advanced data visualisation tools and my mother provided feedback to this article on her iPad. Together we can bridge the digital divide!
About the author
Magnus is a computer engineer and serial entrepreneur as a co-founder of 8 start-ups and 3 successful exits. He’s currently Chief Innovation Officer at DMI (http://diminc.com) after the acquisition of Golden Gekko.