User VS Person: Have We Gotten Technology Wrong?
SWG Mafia Guest blog post by Rafael Gerardo
Any Star Wars fan would know the Podracer – while it’s built to reach extreme speed, in reality it is not really that great, if you actually want to enjoy the ride and the landscape outside of your pod. In a way – our interaction with technology is similar – while it serves many purposes, the building blocks and basic architecture of the technology that we are using now was not created for improving our capabilities as human beings.
It was originally created by companies for companies and it has continued like this… In a way the goal wasn’t to solve real life problems, but rather to build better companies in the future. Therefore the so called client-server architecture is reducing the capabilities of the people and limiting the communication and the integration of people in the society and this makes me wonder – are we, humans, podracers?
We are losing the capability to imagine the future
We might be building bigger data sets and better tech companies, but on the regular people’s life level – we are not communicating with each other, we are getting more and more locked-up in our own little worlds full of devices, and we definitely do not develop the capacity to collaborate. So in this sense technology is working against us!
The push of the big tech companies to use their technology and its omnipresence in our lives kills our freedom and creativity. Funny enough, if you look at the list of futuristic movies over a few decades – the time gap between the year movie is made in and the year it portrays is shrinking, which means – our capability to fantasize and imagine the future is dying. You hear so many people saying “I’m building an app for …”, but the question is – how do you know that you need an app? First, what is the problem you are solving, then which technology would make sense? If it doesn’t exist then let’s create it!
Moreover, never before in the history of humanity the tools were the protagonists. If you look at pyramids – nobody remembers the tools, the technology, how they were built, but everybody sees and remembers the pyramids. In our society – technology is the protagonist! Moreover, tech tools like laptops, smartphones, tables, etc. are incomplete, it’s like you would start using something that is still under construction and assume this is how it should be. But a tool is just a tool, the question is elsewhere – it is about problems and solutions.
Let’s take technology back to basics
My belief is that we need to go back to the basics, to re-define technology, taking advantage of it and reorganising its applicability in a way people can use it while building a better society. We should be learning from the past, but not trying to modernize the old ways of work. Instead of helping big old companies not to die, I see the biggest value in working with visionary people, governments, education sector in general and emerging new businesses aka startups as they are re-defining this future.
For 6 years now I’ve been fiddling with this thought and I believe the answer is moving beyond a particular technology, and rather creating environment, where you interact with content through sensors with your movements or any other natural way of communication and work with various technologies afterwards always taking care of your privacy and the adaptation to your capabilities.
To give you an idea, what I mean with “natural way of communication”, think of an elderly person that doesn’t know how to use a mouse. It is actually not a bad situation, it is the way we should be behaving, because moving something horizontal and then seeing that resulting in a vertical movement on the screen is not natural. We think children are digital because they know how to use an Ipad, but actually we are provoking a problem for this little person, even worse if any person has severe disabilities like – no eyesight, no fingers, they are going to be left out. In short, the language that we use to access digital services now is not our natural language.
Re-defining future through education
If we zoom into the scope of educating young children, we can see that there are at least two other problems with the current education system teaching programming. First, that schools are trying to teach programming, but programming itself is not the important thing about technology. What matters is when you deliver a solution to the people. So you have to go there, understand their problem, come back to the lab and see which combination and technology is the right one to solve this problem. The other issue is that there is a class of computer science, class of geography, different classes, but the children are not working together on the same project. Reality and the tools that you have, and the technology is not focused on the collaboration and the combination of ideas.
To solve it, together with some like-minded people we are developing a platform (https://ubox.world) that simplifies the creation and distribution of interactive experience. It is so easy that even young school children can use it, because it is based on natural, intuitive movement. When we work in educational environments, the core idea is to bring children from different disciplines and even different schools to work together in the creation of educational activities and projects that can improve their own environment and help build their future.
About the author:
Rafael is our “Geek in residence” aka our main Tech mentor, who oversees technology and product side of our startups during the accelerator program and ensures the Geek Week makes the CTOs sweat. He is passionate about technology and its potential to change people’s lives and to imagine without limits. CEO & Founder of UbiquoTechnologies, he is also TEDx Speaker always looking for new ways to improve the reality committed with the impact of technology in our society and dreaming with ideas like “the interface of the future is not interface at all…”
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