Technology is changing the world and has made it almost unrecognizable as compared to even a decade ago. Prominent essayist, author, travel writer and thinker Pico Iyer's image of the modern world is "of teenagers riding in a car at 160 miles an hour around blind curves," which is simultaneously both exciting and unsettling. As technology continues to power forward at a rapid pace, one wonders whether getting off the ride would mean being disconnected from the world. Has technology gotten so ubiquitous that it is completely changing the way people live and work?
This topic engenders powerful opinions and lively debates, with the jury still out on whether technology is making life simpler or more complicated. Undeniably, technology is putting more power in the hands of users, but it can also be a treadmill that is hard to stop, with potential adverse impacts on health, safety and the environment.
Not too long ago, technology was confined to the domain of doctors, engineers, designers, geologists, scientists, pilots, bankers and other professionals 'to push the envelope' of their respective practices. That is clearly not the case today. These days anyone can produce and distribute home movies; anyone can be his/her own banker; anyone can instantly share their knowledge with the world using mobile technologies. The impact of this shift is profound - altering a whole range of industries including utilities, health care, banking and the role of social media in generating thought, debate and opinion has even helped to bring about regime changes in the Middle East.
Although there has been much progress, people have barely begun to scratch the surface of what technology can do. More and more, people are moving towards unprecedented complexity, which in turn may lead them to fear what they may lose to technology. The more technology pushes people towards the future, the more they long for a past that was simpler, gentler, greener and perhaps more satisfying. This dichotomy creates the need for some soul searching. How do we, as technologists, manufacturers and service providers - who also happen to be consumers once we leave the office - prepare for this? What does the future landscape present as opportunities and threats to businesses? What are the key developments that we need to reflect on today so that tomorrow is safer, better and sustainable?
Read more in this Knowledge@Wharton article, 'Balancing Power with Responsibility as Technology Makes for a Richer, Simpler World.'
The broadening sweep of technology means that the future holds new challenges and technology's creators and users will have to balance the gains with responsible conduct. Technology's advances need stringent regulatory environment, better security standards and a new method of creating and managing watchdog bodies in order to create a more balanced and even future.