I was recently asked whether I think technology has made our lives better or worse…. It was interesting to note that my response ended up being more about us as humans than it was about technology and Finding Quality of Life in Digital Disruption

If we look through history every time society has changed and grown technology has been a driver. Each time this has happened we have moved forward because it has made our lives better. The technologies of fire, the wheel, steam, and electricity all made the world a better place and improved the quality of life of those who live in it. I’m not ignorant to the shadow of these technology advances – from global warming to the way they have often been used in war, but on the whole the exploitation of technology has made the world a better place. The same is true of the current technology we are using.

Finding Quality Digital Disruption
Ray de Villiers – Digital Trends/Technology

Finding Quality of Life in Digital Disruption

Medical technology has enhanced and improved the lives of all on the planet. At the beginning of the 20th century millions of people around the world died from a flu epidemic, today we get a flu injection before winter and it protects us against what would have otherwise killed us. Heart transplants, burn recovery, even daily things like asthma medication and medical support for learning and attention challenges like Ritalin and anti depressants have changed the daily lives of billions in way that wasn’t possible as recently as 20 years ago.

Transport technology has revolutionized society. From the discovery of the wheel, to the internal combustion engine, the car, and now even self-driving cars – our world is a better place because of this. In the past it would’ve taken days, weeks, or months for a farmer or factory to engage with their market. Today those same goods arrive fresh and ripe within hours of being dispatched. More importantly, cars carry people, and with those people cars carry information. The true heart of the Information Age wasn’t the computer it was the cars that make it possible for one person, or group of people, to move their stories and knowledge and insights from one place to another. In doing this cars helped to make everyone smarter, and in so doing improve the Finding Quality of Life in Digital Disruption.

We can’t have a discussion of technology and its impact on our world without talking about digital, and mobile, technology. In 1989 Tim Berners Lee and a team from CERN created the http protocol and with it the World Wide Web, giving the Internet to the common man on the street. Before this if we wanted to know about a subject we could only go to the library and read the one or two books the shelves may have held. With the internet, all of the publically available information on a topic can be accessed at the push of a button. If we consider modern smart phones that have internet access this means that today…. everyone, anywhere in the world…. whether rich or poor, educated or not…. has a device in their pocket that gives them access to more information than the whole world could get in 1989. This is a benefit to society in the same degree as the discovery of fire or Finding Quality of Life in Digital Disruption


Finding Quality of Life in Digital Disruption

Everything that was designed for good can be twisted and used for bad. This is the impact of human nature and has nothing to do with the technology we use. Technology is values-neutral and does what we direct it to do. If we want to critique technology and the quality of human life we should first stand in front of a mirror and realize that it is we who distort and corrupt technology not the other way around. To make the world a better place we need to improve the human condition and human nature first, technology will follow.

As the corporate world becomes increasingly digital the first thing we need to acknowledge is that is not new…. The workplace has always evolved as we shifted through technological ages. The technology was also always used to remove tasks from, or improve the results of the way humans do things. Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Process Automation are all just the digital manifestations of the way we have always worked, and changed the way we work.

The digital workplace is same as the technological workplace and the same as the industrial workplace….. etc. What is the fundamental human characteristic that has always allowed us to function and add value? It is our ability to reimagine ourselves and to then align the work we do and the value we deliver accordingly.

To live your best life in an age of technology shift your focus from the technology to yourself. See yourself in a world where these technologies are common and many of the things you do today are redundant. Redefine yourself away from “what you to” and more toward “who you are”. Let the machines do what you do…. Take time to develop who you are, and your humanity will find new ways to grow and thrive when you are needed for something else. Follow Conference Speakers on Twitter


Finding Quality of Life in Digital Disruption

How do you develop yourself?

  • Start searching your online development portals (whether internally at your company or on the web) for courses and seminars aligned with who you are and not with what you do.
  • Don’t resist the change technology brings to your world. Accept them in and be the first to find new value to add…. This way you are best positioned to gain advantage from what comes next.
  • Meet with your HR representative or business partner, ask for opportunities and openings to shift toward where you want to be, and not just move deeper into where you are.
  • Read more broadly. Pick up the odd book / article / website that you would never normally access…. Stretch your mind about where you could be by giving it something new and alternative to digest.

History has shown that the one consistent thing through the ages of technological evolution and development has been the rise of humanity through the change, as we embrace it, harness, and improve our lot through it.

In an age of digital technology our competitive advantage lies in our ability to be fundamentally human – don’t allow technological change to distract you from this central truth.

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