Technology and Prediction

Today I had an interesting question from a friend that made me think in some new lights. Below is my answer (try to figure out the question.)

Dave: Actually, I have read the book and met the Author in a conference where he was challenging another author called Tapscott who talks about Wikinomics (the 4th wave.) Interesting read.

Your questions are more interesting.

1. The answer to the first part of the last one might answer the others: “wasn’t tech supposed to make life easier?” In my opinion, technology did: today, we work 8 hours a day, have a good income, have a good living standard, own a house, change our cars every few years, take a lot of vacation over a year and we can do more than what we would have done 40 years ago! We have better access to knowledge and we can communicate in real time with individuals that are far away… all of these advancement are caused by technology! Right? (Just try to imagine how your grand pa used to live when he was your age and compare it to today!) So, technology made our life better. Don’t you agree?

2. The market is controlling the technology development. Millions of technical gadgets are introduced every year… the market determine the winner… 2-3 years ago, the iPod was the market winner although other gadgets that were introduced… last year, the Wii took over the other similar products… the web over took over the Superhighway concept… the Internet destroyed the multi-billion “Satellite belt” project… I can numerate a lot… The fate of these technologies were determined by the market… In my opinion, the market and the global consciousness determine what technology should be developed. What do you think?

3. About the cellular phone example: you determine if you are important to use it. In my case, I preferred email over the phone… but that is because I am visual and not and auditory person. I am far more productive with an email than a phone. My wife is the opposite of me: she is extremely effective over the phone for she is an auditory person… A compromise: I use Blackberry to read my emails and my wife send me an email to pick up our grocery… we fight less… I buy the grocery just in time… can you see where I am heading?

4. About predicting future applications: we can predict to some extent. However, you need to know that you must add the human factor to the formula. To predict the wining technology, you must look for the users. For example: Du Chardin, predicted the creation of something like FaceBook in 1960’s… the world laughed at him… however, for his prediction to come true, the number of millennium individuals should have reached a critical mass and the right technology should have matured… this happened in 2006 and his prediction came true! Similarly, Drucker predicted something like the Wiki in 1980’s (he called it voluntary work in non-profit organizations) the corporate world could not understand him and figure out how people can work without being paid… Wikipedia fulfilled his prediction in 2004 when the people were ready! I can quote lots of such predictions likes this one… we just need to see them through the eyes of others and not our own!

Do I make sense?

I really enjoyed your email. It is the first time I prefer to answer an email than having my lunch… I hope we continue the discussion…