Technology has a huge potential to make our lives better, more comfortable and safer. The only expectations we have in relation to the development of technology are probably greater than this potential: it is supposed to eliminate hunger, social inequalities and barriers to the human body. However, if we look at certain technological phenomena from a slightly different perspective, this optimism is no longer so obvious.
During the Technology in our Future Mobile World conference, which took place during this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Marc Lavallee from The New York Times quoted the results of a survey examining people’s opinions about the future in the context of technological development. Although 51% of us believe that the Internet and other information technologies are of fundamental importance for social development, but alarmingly many, as much as 49% are afraid of what these technologies may lead humanity in the future.
In addition, as much as 53% believe that the development of artificial intelligence will have a negative impact on people’s lives in the future and as many as 72% are concerned about the amount of information about users that have the world’s largest technology companies.
Over the last dozen or so years Africa has become a huge market for mobile device manufacturers. Demand for smartphones is huge there and more and more Africans have them. However, drawing the conclusion that they are no longer digitally excluded is a mistake.
In Europe, too, we are beginning to see some disturbing phenomena, such as those related to the labour market. It is a fact that the development of technology is causing the displacement of some occupations, especially the simplest and worst paid ones. New jobs are being created in their place – more advanced and better paid, but it should be remembered that these are not jobs for those who have lost their jobs as a result of technological change.
A dozen or so years ago, during the Internet revolution, it seemed to us that publicly available information and unlimited communication would help people create a society based on knowledge and dialogue. The reality turned out to be less wonderful. Information has been transformed into weapons of mass destruction, and the Internet and social media have been an increasing threat since they have become a tool in the hands of hostile governments, radical groups or ordinary haters.
The key question to be answered in this situation is, therefore: who is this better future based on technology actually for?
For every human being on earth as individuals? For all mankind? Or for the environment? It may seem like the same thing. What is good for the individual should be good for society and the environment in which we live. However, we know that this is not the case and they are different sides of a conflict of interest that are largely mutually exclusive.