The Creative Destruction of Technology

Every day technology reaches around the world and increases its grip on industry and the economy. But it also works silently in the background to influence the decisions we make.

An invisible influence

The smart technology driven phones we carry in our pockets have become extensions of our bodies as we rarely leave them out of sight. But they also allow others to track our movements even when turned off and presumed to be unconnected.

Every time we buy something or stop for a coffee data is collected and stored as our habits are examined in an attempt to sell us more. Cars, buses, trucks, trains, planes and machines of all types also capture our data, which is mined for personal and commercial insights. The collection of such huge quantities of information is now commonplace, as collection points populate every environment and every transaction.

A network of barely visible devices grows daily as it collects useful and useless material about our lives. Even when we casually walk through a shop our wanderings are tracked and dissected to see where we go and on what we linger. The evidence gathered is used for fair and transparent commercial purposes but it may also be used without our permission for more sinister and troubling affairs.

A networked environment

Living in such a stifling world is a new experience for many of us as each piece of material is logged and held for future use and misuse. The greatest concern is how little we know about the workings of such networks or about the technologies that influence the choices we make. Equally worrying is that few of us understand the immense power technology now wields in our daily activities.

The effects of digital technology are seen in an increase in automation and disruption to the types of jobs the economy is creating and destroying. They are also evident in the redesign of the physical and economic landscape to facilitate the capture of ever more data. Technology is also developing the ability to learn at a faster rate than humans, which creates a raft of new concerns as artificial intelligence accelerates at such speed that it is affecting our ability to exercise free will.

Given the complexity of the knowledge needed to understand the nuances of the networked world it is only available to an elite few. Others suffer at the whim of technology that knows everything about them as they know little of it. Such a foreboding future is avoidable but only if we understand the need to control the power of new technology before it controls us.

So, technology has always created and destroyed jobs in similar measure but as it grows more powerful it must be managed to benefit the many and not the few