Who Controls Who?

I had a number of conversations this week that centered around an interesting question: Do we control technology or does it control us? My answer… I think we see a little bit of both depending on the circumstances.

This reminded me of a conversation Charlie Rose had with Jeff Bezos back in 2012. As Charlie often does, he asked Jeff a simple, yet loaded question. “How would you characterize where we are at in the lifecycle of technology and the internet?” Jeff’s response, “We're still in the Internet's infancy”. I think Jeff’s response is rather telling. Yes, it speaks to the powerful potential of technology in terms of its exponential growth. However, it also implies our ability or inability to utilize it properly.

Unfortunately, we see technology misused all too often. The couple out to dinner that appear to be more engaged with their phones than with one another; or social media platforms as a means to occupy unfulfilled voids rather than remaining personally connected. So, when do we know we have it right?

I think you have to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is the design and user interface simple enough that it is effortless?
  2. The more important question, does it make life easier?

I think it's really important to consider these questions as we begin to experiment with new technology. One example is virtual reality. Like anything else, we can take it to the extreme and abuse it through personal isolation. However, it could be extraordinarily powerful if used properly. Virtual Reality was a part of one of my conversations this week that brought this whole idea full circle. As we were talking about the use of virtual reality in a senior living community, one person described it perfectly, he said, “this isn’t about virtual reality, we are talking about a shared experience”. I think he hit on the essence of this point. Virtual reality can offer us a whole new realm that will help us tap into our memories and general good nature. Virtual reality can also stir emotions and spark valuable conversations. We all know virtual reality will never replace an actual life experience, however, it will certainly become a meaningful tool that will keep us connected and engaged.

This is a very exciting time. In fact, I think we will look back 20 years from now and marvel at our journey with technology. It is arguable that it will parallel the growth during the renaissance or the industrial revolution. Perhaps the only difference is the speed by which we advance. I’m also sure we will laugh at some of our missteps, but I think it will be a tale of how we embrace technology to create a simpler and sustainable world.

Tell us what you think? We have been thrilled with all of your feedback thus far. Let’s keep the conversation going.