I love technology. I love the new things that it can do, the fact that the mere act of creating it pushes back the boundaries of ignorance, and the creativity expressed by combining the old and new.
I do not subscribe to the idea that older is better or that tried and true is any better than the newest things. I even enjoy (or perhaps not enjoy, but am interested in) the discussions around the philosophical and ethical issues created by these new inventions and idea. I believe that no one is served by stasis or Luddite thinking with respect to technology.
However, I also understand that what technology is not – technology is not the idea, the solution, the reason for societal change. It facilitates it, it helps it and it can even enable it. Technology is and has always been a force multiplier – something which takes some given input effort or resource and dramatically amplifies the outputs.
Technology is a tool. People often forget that once, a sword or bow was exciting new technology. It allowed people that were smaller or physically weaker to defeat other people or animals that were larger, faster, more powerful, or more dangerous. In the context of, say, hunting, the bow and arrow was not a solution – it facilitated the solution.
This solution was providing food – the killing of animals for meat allowed the hunter and his people to eat. The bow did not invent the idea of killing animals, preventing starvation, or allowing families to grow – it made it easier; it lowered the bar for who could kill animals and raised the bar on what kind of animals could provide meat and other sundries. The bow in and of itself was useless – it is only in the context of hunting, warfare, or personal protection that it gains utility; any other type of use is a hobby.
Another word for work that something that one does purely for fun or the cool factor is hobby. To actually rise to the level of solution, an actual problem must be solved. Technology does not solve a problem; people solve problems. More specifically, people use technology to solve problems. Everyone has heard the mantra, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people”. Regardless of your thoughts on the philosophy of this statement, the physically reality of it is true. Until we have 100% AI-controlled autonomous weapons, people are the ultimate source of the use.
Technology is amazing and can do amazing things. The mistake that people make with technology is assuming that it by itself solves problems it does not. For example, email or text messaging do not solve problems by their very existence. The issue that they solve is communication – this is a business problem that has existed for as long as humanity. Text messaging makes the communication faster, easier, and more convenient – it does not solve any problem just by existing.
By extension, when you use technology, remember that you are still solving a business issue. Remember this point and you will hopefully understand how to best use your technology resources to make the business solution cheaper, simpler, faster, or easier. Technology can make your solutions powerful and can make your business work. Forget this point and you will waste your most precious resource – time – solving problems that do not need to be solved, for which people will not pay, or are simpler to solve non-technologically.
Don’t assume that technology is your business.
Don’t assume that you can avoid completely solve business problems with technology. Remember – business solutions solve business problems. Technology facilitates business solutions.
Don’t think that your hobby is going to succeed wildly and provide an awesome life for you and your families.
Don’t treat your hobby like a business; don’t think that technology is the solution.
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