For those of us that spend a good part of the day stuck in SoCal traffic, Google’s self-driving car offers a tiny glimpse of future salvation. We’re a long way off from streets filled with autonomous autos, but Google’s cars have driven 1.7 million miles so far, have only been in 11 accidents, and apparently humans were at fault in all cases. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone with any measure of self-awareness and experience with today’s technology. After all, technology provides us with a means to amplify our own innate abilities and allows us to achieve objectives that might be beyond our unassisted reach. It also grants us the ability to fail faster and sometimes in a spectacular way.
What this means for you:
My newer clients are frequently surprised to hear me say, “Sometimes, less technology is better.” It sounds like a butcher preaching a vegan life-style to his customers. The main reason I say this is not because I’m a Luddite (far from it!) but that I often come across instances where someone has become temporarily blinded by what I call the “Shiny Factor” and has adopted or implemented a technology that complicates rather than simplifies their original intent.
A prime example of this are clients that purchase software or even new computers to deal with an increasing volume of email, when the simpler (but not necessarily easier) solution would be to reduce the volume of email. Purchasing expensive firewalls won’t prevent infections caused by poorly-trained employees. Faster, more powerful computers won’t fix broken process automation or buggy software, nor will a faster internet connection necessarily result in more productive workers. It’s a dangerous, slippery slope, and can become self-perpetuating spiral of expense, frustration and complexity. As the old adage goes, the cure may end up being worse than the disease.
Are we doomed? Only if we continue to ignore that technology is created to serve us, and not the other way around. Technology is not meant to replace humans, but to amplify us. It’s up to us to make sure that the good is amplified and the bad minimized wherever possible, and sometimes to solve problems or get work done the old fashioned way – with a little elbow grease, human ingenuity, and common sense.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net