This is the reality for billions of people across the globe.
- 750 million adults are illiterate[i]
- 2 billion people are unbanked[ii]
- 1.3 billion people live with vision impairment[iii]
- 1.2 billion people have little or no access to electricity[iv]
- 1.3 million people are killed annually on the roads – 90% due to human error[v]
- 260,000 deaths annually will occur due to climate change by 2100[vi]
For the longest time, these were mere statistics that changed every year. A number you read, possibly thought through and took with a pinch of salt, because well, what can be done about it?
Then social media happened. Suddenly the stark reality of human condition is there for everyone to see – right on their device screens. We see millions fleeing their homes, starving, living in poverty, living in darkness – and we want to do something about it. We care, and that makes us human. Technology made it personal.
Today people from any corner of the world have access to help and support for their needs via many creative and innovative ways – powered by technology. Take crowdfunding platforms as an example – they are enabling people open their hearts and wallets to raise money for African kids affected by drought, to eradicate illiteracy, or for #SavingEliza who suffered a rare neurological disorder.
For decades we have been talking about how technology makes businesses more efficient, effective, productive, and competitive. But we fail to acknowledge its contribution in making us more human. Today we are more connected as a community, able to reach out and help across borders, able to develop solutions that can help live better lives.
- Can you imagine the joy a blue-collar worker feels when he/she is able to send money home instantly, with a Blockchain powered transaction, in the time of need? Blockchain could enable $380 Bn of transactions by 2020 amongst the unbanked population[vii].
- Can you imagine the happiness of a person who is saved from blindness because compact and rugged medical devices made timely eye checkup possible? Eighty percent of vision impairment can be avoided with timely screening[viii].
- Can you imagine the grief we could spare millions of families when autonomous vehicles bring down the death toll of road accidents? Even an autonomous vehicle that’s just 10% better than a human driver can save 3000 lives a year[ix], imagine what they can do when they are 90% better.
- Can you imagine the bliss of a young kid doing his/her homework for the first time in a solar powered light? Today off grid solar products are powering 360 million people around the world[x].
- Not to forget the advancements in Ed-tech that are enabling distance learning and giving people the world over a chance at learning. India’s IGNOU is the largest university in the world with three million students enrolled in online programs[xi].
Technology can and does make all these scenarios possible enhancing our wellbeing as individuals, communities and world at large.
Not just at grassroots level, the impact of technology innovation is visible in every walk of life:
- Robotic surgeons have made procedures safer, faster, relatively painless, with lesser chance of infection and faster recovery times
- Smart machines are helping the ageing population around the world live a longer and more comfortable life
- Human machine interfaces and wearable devices are enabling remote working in high risk industries, such as oil and gas and mining – making it safer for the workers
- Shanghai is exploring 5G technologies to improve city life
- Blockchain based P2P platforms and smart contracts are enabling trading of solar and other renewable energy
- Solutions like Jamf School are making learning digital by simplifying the use of Apple devices in schools.
Being able to create, to nurture, to emote, to connect, to be part of meaningful and sustainable change is what makes us humane. Technology is an enabler that provides new possibilities, opportunities and paradigms in helping us be humane. It is what we do that makes a difference. It’s our collective responsibility to ensure technology is used to create the right kind of impact for individuals, societies, and nations. Every one of us is a stakeholder when it comes to ‘making technology humane’. Are you doing your bit?