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I need to make something clear: I am not a technophile; I
don’t believe that technology is a cure-all wonder or that it will
save us from destruction.
This is a difficult statement to
make—and probably a harder one to
believe—due largely to the fact that
I have spent so much time over the
past decade writing breathless, tech-nophilic articles about the cure-all
wonders of technology and how it will
save us all from destruction.
So, some clarification may be
First: I believe that advanced technology (in whatever form
it takes) is an essential part of life today. Without it, sooner or
later our businesses will fail, our industries will fail, and our lives
will fall apart. So it saves us from destruction, right?
However, I believe the purpose of technology is to aid humans—be that heavy lifting, data collection, intelligence gathering, safety, etc. It makes us stronger, smarter, healthier, and
far more efficient. Without a human connection, though, the
destruction-preventing powers of technology is erased. Basically, unless technology actually helps us—and unless we embrace that help—it serves no purpose at all.
In other words: technology is a purely human endeavor.
This point was hammered home while sitting on a plane last
month watching a crew of workers unload luggage. They caught
my eye because each of them had a brand new wearable attached
to their wrists that we had written about here at NED (winning!).
The device allowed each of them to scan the tags of every bag,
check the data, and move them to the appropriate cart—all in
natural movements that wouldn’t impede their bag-hauling
Three workers showed up to the job, all wearing the devices.
Two of them positioned themselves at the end of the conveyor
belt and the third climbed up to the top, crouching awkwardly
(and precariously) right at the lip. He then curled his scanner
wrist into a painful-looking extreme bend and proceeded to
scan every single bag coming out of the plane and barking in-
structions to the schleppers below. And those guys never used
their fancy, efficiency-boosting, expensive wearables once.
And this is why I am not a technophile.
The technophile’s position is that these devices, by their very
merit, will allow fewer people to do more work with less effort—
that they will save both the business and the workers’ bodies
Instead, what we got was three people doing the work of two,
thousands of dollars of wasted equipment, and a future case of
carpel tunnel for that poor guy’s wrist (assuming he doesn’t fall
off the belt first). If anything, technology only hastened destruction in this case.
So, no, I’m not a technophile. I am firmly on team human.
The only way through our high-tech innovation age—with all
of this Io T and AI and digital transformation business positioned
for such destruction—is to focus on the humans and human
interaction with these technologies. That means spending
time to understand how we work, understanding how new
tools will change our work, and then working with us to make
This recipe, you’ll notice, has little to do with technology at all.
It’s how all change is managed. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new
screwdriver or a new 3D printer,
unless we focus on the humans
using it, it’s nothing but an