Smart technology is here
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - June 24, 2018 - 12:00am

Technology is changing things. Sometimes, we are so enamored with all the new gadgets and other shiny objects; we scrape up a lot of money from our hard-earned savings just to make sure we have them lest we lag behind.

Technology does not only change things, it has transformed the way we lived and the rate of change is accelerating. Consider the changes that have happened over the years. After the years following the Civil War, there were a handful of technologies that reconfigured existence.

Thomas Edison’s light bulb extended the working day and may have created the workaholic.

The air-conditioner provided cool and comfort for hot and humid days and it pushed us indoors all day, causing the reduction of our vitamin D levels.

The jet engine have shrunken distance but increased the scope of business as in warfare.

Radio and television spread information on massive scales which penetrated homes and private spaces, and shaped culture.

Appliances sped up our tasks and chores, but reduced our physical strength.

Computers reduced outdoor activities but, in its stead, created an industry called fitness gyms.

Smart phones become the universal device for almost every technology application, and at the same time have raised our stress and tension levels.

Social media has been able to bridge people from across the world, yet has isolated the people nearest them.

This is strange but it seems like the more social media one uses, the less social he or she becomes.

Technology has now created new businesses that the world has never seen before. Suddenly, YouTube stars that would ever have had the slightest opportunity to flash their faces on the TV or movie screens and become overnight stars, and earn millions to the consternation of their parents who still believe that they should get a “real job.”

Even the way I go to sleep and the way I wake up from my sleep has been altered by technology. For the past two to three years, I have not physically set my alarm clock to the time I need to get up to start the day. I have always said, “Alexa, wake me up tomorrow morning at 6:15 a.m. to the sound of classical music.” And then, my A.I.-enabled cylinder that I purchased from Amazon.com will respond: “Alarm set tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock to classical focus on amazon music.” And it does.

Now, expect more of this to happen. More people will be talking to their devices. Google home products, Apple’s Homepod, and Amazon’s Echo are all competing in this field. This might pose as a challenge for people to be reminded that when they talk to humans, they should still communicate with grace and respect. With machines, one can be rude, impatient and be ill-mannered wanting to get the information we want but humans are not machines. I can be awakened by Alexa with its classical music playing and in my still foggy mind and half-wakefulness say, “Alexa, shut up: and it does stop. But can you imagine me talking this way to my clients or my family?

Smart technology is now similar to media in its ability to shape our lives in a thousand ways and in even more pervasive means. We have even witnessed the rise of fake news and false content, and have seen how many young people have become bashers and bullies, cussing and cursing in loud voices instead of improving their arguments through intelligent conversations to the benefit of no one but perhaps, to a handful of marketing people whose sole mission in life is to create noise, traffic, and click counts to raise up ad revenues for their sites. Technology can diminish emotional intelligence as those who are immersed in it become socially and emotionally lazy, thanks to all the screens in our lives.

Geoffrey Fowler already has a sinister name for this fake news and false contents in social media as he calls it: “counterfeit reality.” I guess what has happened over the years is that civilization driven by mass media and technology has replaced our preference from a culture of character to a culture of personality.

Technology will not go away. It is not a passing fad. Businesses will be challenged, jobs will possibly be replaced, and so we should learn it, know more about it and most importantly use it for good and not as a means to justify the means and in many case….the “mean-ness.”

Famous book author and professor Adam Grant whom I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing years ago says this beautifully:

“We could” – refers to the creativity we can employ through smart technology.

“We should” – refers to the ethical and moral decisions we need to consider in its usage.

I am interested in technology developments. I am sure it will improve many people’s lives, but the same materials can also be used to advance evil and harm. Therefore, we need to be reminded that technology is moral-neutral. It is still the heart of the person using it that matters. Use technology for what matters most and that is for the good — for everyone’s sake.

(Francis Kong teams up with Luigi Mapa in a two-day seminar workshop “Leadership That Matters” this June 25-26 at Marqui Convention Center BGC. For registrations or further inquiries contact Inspire Leadership Consultancy and look for Pauline at 0998-841-7217 or 0917-561-4673)

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