And so I want to expand on this. What exactly are we creating. I read my trade rag .Net Magazine and am astounded by some of the things I read, the latest comment I enjoyed was 'Aren't we lucky to be able to produce amazing things from just a computer'. But really is that true?
Computers change the world, amazing things have been designed on them and they do an incredible job is every walk of life without exception and yes anyone can build a website and change the world, I can name dozens of examples. But I also think it is incredibly important to put perspective on this. The reality is that computers are extremely disruptive and while some people welcome this, I think an element of caution is still needed.
I recently spoke to an advocate of new technologies who is steaming ahead with his ideas and ambitions, it all extremely positive, but when questioned on the ethics of what is being created and what it might mean for humans - he 'outsourced' all potential concerns to a separate 'body' precisely for this purpose. That gives him free reign to design whatever he likes, because someone or something else will take the rap should it go wrong. That in my mind is scary.
An example is Google Glass - we've all heard about wearable tech it is the new big thing for 2014, but Google researchers have plunged on with this technology presumably farming out the privacy, ethics, moral and social concerns to another 'body'. Now that they work - we should welcome them. And that is the flaw as I see it. Do we seriously think the scientists would have invented the Bomb if they knew the devastation it was capable of. The reality is probably yes they would have done it anyway.
So what exactly are we creating? It's worrisome and at the core of human society, the need to progress and yet do it responsibly, we created the banks, now we think they are the bad guys, we created computer games and complain about the wasted lives spent playing them.
Jan Koum, WhatsApp's founder' has declared he does not want to be an entrepreneur as by definition an entrepreneur is someone who sets up a company or entity to make money and I think he has a point. I also think many of the truly life changing things that have happened are from people that aren't interested in the money side of things.
So how does this all relate to me, you, my clients and our future. Sure we have to cover costs and make living we live in the real world after all, but I do put it to you that whatever your business is these are two golden rules we should all aspire to:
- Benefit others - it sounds crass, but if what we do truly benefits other people in real ways then great. If we're in it for the money, or next years skiing holiday, or even as simply something to fill the time, then I question if we will be truly successful.
- Ethics - I remember a time when websites would frequently have a page on a companies 'ethics', but this is no longer the case. Yet the entire, moral, ethical, privacy and social implications need to go hand in hand with what you're doing.
Sorry this Post was designed to make us wonder what we are creating with all the technologies in our lives, but it has turned into a mini lecture, this was not the intention.
I just hope that the things I am creating with my computer genuinely do put my own beliefs into action.