As I write this, our political leaders are in Paris trying to close a deal on limiting global warming. Without technology we would not have global warming. Our use of energy, our mobility, the way we produce food and how we transport it, it’s all the result of the former industrial revolutions. This brought us a lot of welfare, but clearly not all positive.
We are currently at the beginning of the next revolution, the third or the fourth, depending on how you count. Digitalization, Internet of Things, the industrial internet, share economy; it is clear that solutions for global warming highly depend on the current technology revolution. Our political leaders may agree on the goals but it will be up to technology leaders to make it happen.
Should that make us feel hopeful? On one hand I would say yes. I see a lot of positivity in innovation. People, businesses, start ups with good intentions and high ambitions.
Daan Roosegaarde for example, a Dutch innovation artist’s Smog Free Tower is just one of his fascinating projects. It is a 7 meter high tower which sucks polluted air and breaths clean air, creating a clean oasis in the city. From the smog he creates jewelry. Brilliant idea, not meant to clean the whole world but to make people look differently at pollution. A bit naïve,but positive and hopeful.
On a smaller scale, as part of an IoT Battle, I am involved in developing a smart toilet, based on Internet of Things. Sensors in the toilet give food advice and health warnings to the user, who can share this information with doctors. Data can also be shared with health organizations to detect and manage infections. Good intentions, high ambitions which give me the feeling my work has real value.
At the same time I see the upcoming role of drones as a weapon, which terrifies me. It takes away humanity out of a conflict with potential catastrophic consequences.
Truly the dark side of technology.
Although I am not religious, sometimes, on very rare moments, I even think the Amish in Pennsylvania may be right. Refusing to use any modern technology may not be such a bad idea after all.
Since the easiest way to solve a problem is by not creating it.