Technology as a Force for Good
I think a lot of the mainstream discourse surrounding technology is fairly negative, often veering into the dystopian. If there are stories about tech in the news, it is likely to be about data privacy concerns and social media monopolies, facial recognition software, or too much screentime destroying the attention spans of youths worldwide. This week you might’ve seen the weirdly public beef between Amazon and Microsoft over the US Department of Defence’s JEDI contract, and yes - that is weird and even a touch dystopian. It certainly doesn’t fill me with hope that Big Tech will act with integrity and consideration for the public good in the future.
But still, intelligent people around the world are investing their time and expertise into furthering technology, as am I, albeit in a small way. All those people must see something in it or else they would put their talents to use elsewhere, and technology does have huge capacity to act as a force for good, we just tend to forget it - or at least I do anyway.
The pandemic seems like the perfect time to try and be appreciative and optimistic about technology. Trying to imagine isolation without the ability to videocall friends and family would be bordering on unbearable for many of us. Contact tracing apps could be a major factor in allowing restrictions to be eased sooner. Advanced modelling techniques and ability to share vast quantities of data instantly are going to allow more effective solutions to be developed faster. That’s ignoring all the promise that technology has in times of less urgency - artifical intelligence with the potential to make more accurate medical diagnoses then a doctor, cryptocurrencies allowing unbanked individuals to not have to hoard cash or to be able to weather the storm of turbulent economies and inflation, the ability for us all to save time in a myriad different ways so that we can spend more of our precious moments on this earth doing the things that we love, rather than spending 30 minutes every day writing telegrams.
Technology enables people, both to do good and bad things, with unprecedented scale and efficiency. I fixate a lot about the bad things, often minimising the good or forgetting them entirely, but I want to keep things in balance, and remember the good. Perhaps I’ll start trying to write here about some of the positives that technology brings, in an effort to realign my own narrative about it.