To Be Clear: 4 Truths About New Technologies
When it comes to emerging technology, four things are simultaneously true:
- Innovations in everything from artificial intelligence to augmented reality to robots are discovered and refined nearly every second of the day, every day.
- Innovation is not a buzzword but a condition, a state of mind, a way of organizing life and work so that you’re forever poised to make new products, services, or better ways of doing things.
- Integrating new ideas so that you can develop new outcomes is hard, especially when the destination is unclear.
- Tremendous opportunities for good coexist alongside tremendous potential challenges and even terrible outcomes.
We don’t live in a binary world where things are either good or bad. It was recently pointed out to me that my blog is wholly bullish on immersive tech like virtual and augmented reality. After a quick review, I realized that may be true, but a closer look shows I’m well aware of the challenges.
See #1 above. I’d say awareness of the work being done is important, and second, we have to participate from wherever we sit at the table, be it as creator, developer, implementer, buyer, or seller. It’s important that decision-makers build a strategy that’s right for their organization because playing catch-up in a field that’s evolving daily is hard to do.
And there are major concerns on every level. Users and consumers are rightly worried about data collection and privacy issues, to name just two. The type of data that new VR headsets can collect with the latest eye-tracking technology is unprecedented. These devices are increasingly able to collect all sorts of data about us, incl. how we breathe, how often we blink, how much we move around, and where we look. A lot of this information can and eventually will be used to get a good picture of the user’s health, even to diagnose and treat disease.
Whose hands will that data be in? A private company?
Which bring me right to #4. Impact. If we are researching the use of VR to treat pain, shouldn’t we be asking if it can also cause it? Who needs to be at the table making decisions about how these applications are made, who can use them, and when? These emerging technologies are powerful. As builders and adopters, we need to be mindful of these questions and do what we can to make sure that the ecosystems surrounding tech development lead to answers we all want to live with.