Is it our basic survival instincts that are impacting our adoption of technology today? In the beginning, for hundreds of thousands of years, the technologies we developed were those of raw survival; tools to hunt for food, tools to prepare foods, clothes and shelter to develop. Language and sociocultural structures to establish rules of survival through cooperation. But this took a very, very long time. Technologies evolved slowly until the last hundred years. Now they’ve ramped up at an incredible pace. A rate we’ve never before witnessed as a species.
Advances in communications technologies such as the internet and the devices that enable the transfer and assembling of data into meaning (smartphones, computers etc.) mean we can share learned knowledge on a scale unlike ever before. Societies evolved because we learned how to communicate. It is this ability that lies at the very base of our social and cultural structures.
Technology Can’t Be Absorbed Fast Enough
Today, we are developing technologies so fast that I believe our species is struggling to integrate them into our social, cultural and economic systems. Perhaps it is our very basic sense of survival that tends to subconsciously reject or hold off on adopting new technologies.
We know in business that implementing new technologies in a company can be disastrous if not done with careful consideration of processes and how people work.
Case In Point: Social Media
Modern communications technologies enabled the rise of social media tools. Now, a decade later many businesses, governments and individuals are still struggling to understand what social media are, if they’re effective and why people even use them. Yet we do. If you’re reading this post, I’d wager that you know someone who thinks social media are a waste of time and useless. There were those that thought that of the printing press a few hundred years ago. And the telephone. And the television…and so on.
So What Does This Mean for Tech Companies, Society and the Economy?
Advances are so rapid that I think many societies, cultures and countries are struggling to find out how they are fitting into our social lives, business and economies. While some technologies like smartphones, laptops and tablets have reached a plateau, others like artificial intelligence and robots are advancing rapidly and they will impact our global economy. Home automation, self-driving cars, these too are going to have an impact.
I believe it is these sociocultural tensions with technology that are the biggest challenges for adoption of new technologies within society and business. Our “lizard brain” doesn’t see a lot of these technologies as crucial to our very survival – yet. Perhaps once we collectively, subconsciously, agree to the benefits, we will adopt them faster. But how to get there? The technology may be evolving rapidly, but are our social structures?
What do you think?