In a world seemingly growing ever more short-sighted and impatient, people don’t have the patience to understand and fix problems, instead buying into symptom treatments or what feels like the right thing to do without really understanding the long term effects or the bigger picture. This pervades everything from our politics down to products marketed to us with built in obsolescence. Companies and politicians prey on our lack of time and our sense of what feels like the nice thing to do to sell us things that are actually really bad in the long run.
I think we must find ways to re-learn the importance of seeing the longer and broader picture and tackling the root of problems. Incentivising and investing in these to draw away from impatience and opportunism.
In terms of politics, which is typically subjective, there are many examples of this phenomenon. In the UK, I recently heard a feminist on TV suggest that Theresa May (Then Prime Minister) could not be regarded as a feminist since she has been responsible for austerity which has hurt countless people. Clearly, the lady concerned was of a more left-wing view and failed to recognise that it was entirely her political perspective that led to this view. I wonder if she really believed that Theresa May and the Conservatives were pursuing their agendas just to hurt people, be evil and take money away from deserving people.
Of course, those behind austerity are doing so because they believe that what they are doing is the right thing to do. Sadly, we can’t live both realities at the same time to prove easily one way or the other, but we can look at examples in history in the hope of learning from it. The Conservatives might argue that they are trying to cut debt, improve efficiency and stimulate growth by generating value. This then in principle is a longer view since the idea is that by creating growth and value, more tax can then be generated to pay for things like welfare and other services. That this is a temporary painful investment that will improve things for the future. But if we only do what feels right now, we can miss this view altogether while feeling sure we are doing what is right.
We aren’t taught or reminded about this issue of perspective nearly enough. We become so ingrained in our views that we never stop to think about the other side of them or why we believe what we believe. Some people fail to consider that there is another side, as they feel that their beliefs are the only ones. This is further enforced by the people who we choose to spend time with and engage with online. If you only interact with people who share the same views as you, you’re never exposed to the other side and the more assured of those views we become. Our online filter bubble encourages our same views without ever challenging us to re-examine them. Tendecies towards narrowed views are also all too common in many insular educational establishements.
Something which I am aware could be quite a controversial view with a similar mechanism is surrounding aid to third world areas. In a world of increasing population and ever-dwindling resources, are we inflicting more suffering on subsequent generations by supporting a current generation to exist in places where there are overstretched resources? This is a similar dilemma to the famous trolley problem.
Of course, I am all in favour of reducing suffering, but we should be careful to ensure that at the same time we are not helping to build a larger future problem. As clearly that would be counter to our objective.
I already wrote about population growth and how women’s education and equality are an important part of solving that. Reducing the human population would help to reduce a lot of the problems that our world currently faces.
Our modern world is designed to be devastatingly wasteful. Corporations use Planned obsolescence in order to make more money, and we use the concept of a filter bubble to force others to have the same beliefs as us, and think anyone with a differing view is a bad person. We need to become a more accepting society open to proper debate, and recognise that those on the other end of the political spectrum often have the same underlying goals. It’s time we took the time to consider the objective and broad view to understanding.
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About Jon Pitchfork
Technology has become integral to our ever-connected world and will be key to us successfully sustaining our existence into the future. It’s at the touch of our fingertips every day, and we rarely consider the amazing potential it holds.
With our ever increasing population, people around the world are beginning to realise the impact they have on others. Technology gives us the power to reach underserved populations all over the world, as well as the tools to bring about fairness and alter our collective behaviours.
To be truly transformative a technology must consider its Game Theory, the collective, as well as individual behaviours of its participants, its greater and longer term effects on the environment and groups as well as simply the result for the individual. It must find the balance between flexibility in its purpose and control such as through incentives. Well distributed governance across its community helps to avoid corruption and ensure that whatever direction the technology evolves in, it is an ethical and sustainable one.
As with political decisions, knowledge, biases and reasoning of the individual is a potential area of concern and weakness in a democracy. We naturally tend to pigeon-hole things as say good or bad to allow us to manage them simply, particularly things we find difficult to understand. But we must resist this tendency to oversimplify, which is least helpful when dealing with things of great importance like emerging and developing technologies. Typically, technologies can be leveraged for both good and bad outcomes, and ones that serve us best result from time taken to ensure behaviours are correctly incentivised and disinsentivised. With so much at stake and to gain, we owe it some depth of consideration.
This website is dedicated primarily to exploring the most impactful ideas and innovative ways that technology can be applied to help change the world. The world is currently facing many problems, such as extreme poverty, hunger and global warming in the face of abject inequality and corruption. Could Technology be the answer to all of these crises?
Jon Pitchfork is a natural problem solver. Interested in understanding and improving the world, he finds happiness in creating meaning. Jon Pitchfork is the Director of Truvolution, a technology development company in the UK since 2007 and Concentrates Direct which launched in May of 2017, aiming to reduce environmental impact through product concentration. Since late 2013, Jon has immersed himself in the emerging world of Blockchain believing that it will grow to be the underpinning of many new and reformed services. Ultimately, Jon hopes this technology will help improve the world, making it less corrupt, fairer and more reasoned.
“We each play a brief but crucial link in the custody of this four and a half billion-year-old fragile world. There are any number of ways we can make life unpleasant or destroy it, we have to identify and solve our problems in advance if we are to avoid sleepwalking into disaster”.
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