Here we have been paying attention to the many technological trends and developments for years. We do many workshops and lectures on the impact and trends of technology. Of course, we always combine that with social trends and developments.
Because only a focus on technology can create completely wrong expectations and images of society/future, and that has disastrous consequences for the strategy and vision of organizations. So yes, we also talk and do a lot with technology, but always in combination with social developments and the spirit of the time. We never let today’s technological expansion drive determine our thinking and acting. An expansion urges in which the focus on technology has become the goal and no longer the means.
We, therefore, never try to avoid the critical note surrounding today’s technological expansion drive. Because let’s be honest, technology is not going to solve all problems. The speed of change is also manageable. Many contemporary developments have their origins in decades of research. Where it seems that we are now suddenly in gear, we often see the results of years of study. Decades of continued developments and visions of decades ago. Why renewal? We have seen it come and go for many years. So, the gasping around the technology is not justified at all. Or is it?
Besides, as human beings, we will mainly have to look at ourselves and at the world and systems that we humans have created. Technology can support this, but it is precisely from a different way of thinking and acting that the challenge for us is humanity. That is where the most significant innovation and change is and not at all in technology. The great danger is precise that we apply technology from an outdated viewpoint to make the old world more efficient. The easiest way for us, but not the most sustainable.
Technology as a new belief?
The jubilation around the technology is something we get a little tired of. Above all, let’s remain realistic. Vision and hope are beautiful as long as it gives us direction and incites action. But please let’s stay realistic around the technology hypes. It’s not about technology; it’s about people.
Progress must be on that—no more tech-driven so-called democratization of the world. We do not see the exact opposite emerge. Large tech organizations that get all the power? We make the old world more efficient, and we follow the quirks of tech companies. We look like technology sheep. Technology is a new belief with all its consequences.
Speed of technology?
The other exciting development is the increasing use of words such as exponential and acceleration. Here too, we see many things happening from Extend Limits. In the field of technology, we see developments follow one another quickly.
It has been many decades while working on robotics. Now we see many videos on YouTube and TikTok of what is possible and what is happening in this area. The most famous and most cited is probably Big Dog. So, this was the start of robotics. But if we look further, we see a robot that was already tested as a concept in 1969.
This robot was a “walking truck” in 1965 by General Electric. With this statement, we are certainly shorting the developers of Big Dog. And indeed, the technology is much further. But how much development time has been invested in the rise of robotics? How innovative are the concepts we see today?
Although we cannot compare it, it is interesting to take a look at history when we first encountered specific ideas and technology. Let’s start with the popular drone. It is now a technology that we cannot get out of. The ‘drone’ flew before it in 1849. During the bombing of Venice. Now, this comparison does not hold, of course, with today’s drone. Think also of a first police drone from 1976.
There is more technology that we can wonder how innovative is it all? We call the autonomous car together with the smart highway. A dream that many scientists and visionaries have cherished for decades. The developments, therefore, go back a long way. As a typical example, we have added an exciting video of the autonomous Mercedes Bus from 1986. It was a test and concept, but the first tests and ideas with the autonomous car and smart road go back much further.
However, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA) only launched a competition for the construction of autonomous cars in 2004. The goal was to equip one-third of the U.S. military with autonomous vehicles by 2015. One million U.S. dollars were announced as Prize money for it.
The breakthroughs in the field of autonomous cars are currently striking, and we see for the first time on YouTube, a person who has fallen asleep in his car while the car is driving on. The question is whether it is a marketing stunt or whether it is real? The autonomous Car and smart infrastructure are coming. But a long history characterizes the development.
Time for more technological realism
There are many examples that all indicate that technology is fast, but not so quick. So, some realism in the many stories and publications we see around technology these days may not be surprising. It is even better to anticipate as an organization. In other words, look and research what is going on in the field of technology and especially what will be going on. Also, consider the phases of experimentation and science. Combine that with social sentiment and zeitgeist.
Technology alone says nothing at all. Society and the spirit of the times are decisive for the success of technological development. This often gives a good idea of what we can expect in 10-20 years. After all, the technology is easy to predict. The social impact and use, on the other hand, are less. So, don’t be tempted by technology-driven haste and development.
Applies technology from social sentiments and visions that break with the present.