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How Is Digital Technology Impacting Us?

Photo by Tamas Tuzes-Katai on Unsplash

At the beginning of this year, I was taking up the lessons learned during the previous year. One of the more important lessons was that: “we must learn to live with uncertainty”.

This idea was already evident before the lockdown. The pandemic has only exacerbated it. But, it’s also an invitation to rethink the future.

You have to read the debates about the future of work. Remote working or not? A hybrid way? Moreover, some work that was not very digital became so during the pandemic.

We are, therefore, in the process of creating opportunities by surrounding ourselves with as much certainty as possible what I want to call potentialities for action. In other words, navigate in a sea of ​​uncertainties.

We think about the future in the long term, taking into account what we want and what we do. And precisely, what we do is what we produce.

Product of which one of the essential elements is digital technology. In other words, digital technology pervades our lives. I want to share some thoughts about this link between digital technology and uncertainty in our society.

Uncertainty perception

Uncertainty is perceived as something generated and learned as progress is made, with a blurred initial situation.

Uncertainty is the consequence of various factors. Some are related to digitization itself, understood as the need to incorporate complex technological tools and the lack of digital training of the senior executives interviewed.

Leaders consider in general several issues as relevant to shape their perception of lack of control:

  • exponential advances in technology
  • the need for continuous learning
  • the permanent obligation to incorporate new features
  • the continuous demands of the market derived from our habits that customers
  • the appearance of new disciplines: AI, IoT, Big Data, Cloud…

A feeling that occurs even among the most digitally prepared leaders, managers or directors.

On the other side, factors that affect society appear, and the lack of adequacy of the current structures is obvious.

This is more than a crisis we would already be facing. It is about a complete change of economic and social scenery. Society has conspicuously changed. It has transformed. The world is no longer the same as it was in the early 2000s.

For example, when you see the type of business developing large companies, you see it is always about technology. Companies like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Google have recently reached market capitalizations above $1 trillion. These companies are now the leaders of this economic world. The combined market cap of Facebook, Apple, Google/Alphabet and Amazon is $5 trillion and tell the story of their value, scale and influence. They are a lot richer than most of the countries.

The leaders of the world economy are no longer the big oil or industrial companies. Pharmaceutical companies neither.

On the other hand, the nature of work is changing. Some workforces will disappear in favour of robotics, artificial intelligence … And other types of jobs will appear. And of course, all of this means that people who are not prepared and without training or skills, these people are going to stay out of the game. So that means we’re facing a change.

Things are rushing. Technological progress is advancing at high speed, and we are faced with a new paradigm.

Digital Technology Impact

How will our society react to these rapid, intense, profound changes? Therefore, we must think about the effects produced by our actions, even if the answer will always be doubtful.

Digital technologies are changing society in a global and systemic way. New technologies are forging our relationships and shaping our lives today.

They are diffused according to a particular economy that combines depth (since it affects the structure of organizations) and transversality (since all the tasks and all the functions are concerned).

The confinement offered a perfect illustration of the ambivalence of remote work, in which I explained the principles for better adoption.

Many people who have continued working as a professional thanks to remote working have benefited from technology, such as online training, remaining in a relationship without the risk of infection, or staying safe with their families (remote education…), their loved ones...

But at the same time, the pandemic was accompanied by a staging of the arguments of two “political” parties: the “disaster side” denouncing already too great a virtualization of society. And the “blinded technophiles” side: exclusively digital solutions for all kinds of problems.

The lockdown has developed digital uses, which raises another question. Will digital go so far as to amplify a perpetual lockdown? Will digital technologies divide us? Or, on the contrary, will it strengthen the social bond? It is an open question and full of uncertainties.

Conclusion

The technology, which produces knowledge, also produces uncertainty, but it is an exceptional type.

Technology does not tell us what we can do and must do with it. It allows us to do it opens up new possibilities. However, it does not tell us what to do with these “potentialities for action”.

Quick summary

  • During the confinement, the uncertainty became even more evident than it already was. We have therefore entered into a process of creating opportunities to rethink the future. Explore potentialities for action.
  • Uncertainty is the consequence of various factors, especially its link with the digital technology era. Technology is advancing at great speed, and we are faced with a new paradigm.
  • Digital technologies are changing society in a global and systemic way. But at the same time, technology has opened many questions about the virtualization of society and social cohesion.
  • The technology, which produces knowledge, also produces uncertainty, but it is a very special type.

Thanks for reading.

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