Redefining what technology to work on
Every day you wake up with the help of an alarm set on your mobile phone. And then you brush your teeth using a toothbrush that was manufactured by a line of robots. You eat a piece of toasted bread with some butter spread on it — you’ve cooked it either by using a stove or a toaster.
Technology is all around us and it plays a vital role in our lives. Most of us do agree that there are pros and cons to technology however, I’m here to tell you that it’s because we aren’t focussing on the right thing!
When we discovered fire, it was a useful tool that helped shape our society into what it is today. On the other hand, when we look at services like TikTok or music/video streaming subscription services, we tend to notice that these things are built to generate money. Such services do not contribute much to society at all.
I agree, a few people earn their livelihood as creators on these platforms but the kind of wage gap they are creating among the masses and the amount of time that has been wasted by looking at content that doesn’t help the users at all has shown that these services are useless for the long-term development of the society.
To give you an idea of what I’m trying to convey, let’s compare two companies, SpaceX and Instagram.
SpaceX is a company that launches satellites for organizations for NASA, working on going to Mars, and attempting to bring the Internet to everyone through Starlink. They directly employ almost 10,000 people. For all this, they are worth $74 Billion.
Instagram is a company owned by Facebook that directly employes 450 people but is worth a whopping $102 Billion! For a photo-sharing app, it is worth quite a lot.
This case study highlights what our priorities are as a civilization. We’re willing to invest more in a photo-sharing app (to generate revenue quickly) than a space company whose endeavours could save our species from climate change or other catastrophes.
Another problem that we’re unable to see is that the brilliant minds that could work in fields like literature and physics are gravitating more and more towards fields like Ad-marketing and optimizing content for search engines. This shift can prove to be detrimental to our society in the long run.
To fix this, we need to redefine what types of technology exist and what type of technology we should work on.
Technology has two types: (1) Love-to-have technology and (2) Need-to-have technology.
Love-to-have technology are those applications of technology that release cheap dopamine in humans, and they have no significant contribution to society. Eg: Social Media, games, etc.
Need-to-have technology aids us in generating jobs and improves the quality of life, all the while allowing us to progress. Eg: Infrastructure, rockets, microprocessors, etc.
As illustrated above, love-to-have tech companies are over-valued and, a lot of resources are being wasted on something that won’t help us in the long term. We do need them in our society but we’re giving them a lot more attention than they deserve.
In the coming years, we must invest more in companies that develop need-to-have technology. Developing such technology does take time and resources but the results are worth going through the journey.
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