Just about anywhere you are in the world, you can quickly get a taxi or book a spare bed room using only a smart phone. In many areas, phones have replaced credit cards and even cash. These capabilities were not available on such a mass scale until recently and by and large they are making things simpler for consumers. For the industries that are being rapidly and profoundly changed by these apps, things are suddenly much more complicated.
While these so-called business “disruptors” may not even outlive their own hype, with new applications fresh on their heels, they have demonstrated rather dramatically what can happen overnight when technology and some creative thinking get applied at the right place and time in the market.
In addition to apps like these, there are hundreds of other behavior-changing technologies arriving every day just waiting for your approval. It’s all happening incredibly quickly, and unlike when ground-breaking inventions like the printing press, or the car, or the TV came along, we have much less time to question and test and absorb the impact of these new technologies.
Do I really need this? What are costs of adapting it versus not? What are the potential risks? What may be gained? What may be lost? Will I use it or will it use me? Will it bring people closer or farther apart? Does it depend on me or will I come become dependent on it?
Because of tech’s ubiquity and near universal acceptance, there seems to be little urgency to confront these questions. And that missing step–is the problem, not tech itself, which is of course essential.
It’s like we’ve opted to skip the beta-testing stage and have plunged directly into production. There are usually consequences, many unforeseen, whenever you do this. For every parent that has seen a child more interested in their gadget, than…just about anything else …you already know this.
And since we don’t have much time to ask these questions, that is exactly why we have to make time. As hard as it may be, we have to slow down and actively filter out what technology we let into our lives, what we will give some access to, what we will restrict more closely, and what we may ultimately decide to keep out.
As powerful as technology, we remain the ultimate disruptors.