A technological society is still a human society

30th January, 2017

In this modern world, few things are idolised more than the technologies that seem to be ‘emerging’ around us.

A flick of the fingers across a pocket-sized LED screen launches us into a virtual newsroom, filled with both expert and non-expert predictions of the ‘robot-revolution’.

On this same device we can simultaneously play a video game and produce an short film which will be posted for immediate social and artistic validation.

For many technology enthusiasts, social utopia is here.

The flipside is the anti-technology sentiment that is permeating our most privileged communities.

The voluntary disconnection of tech and human is an antidote to the dependency we now have on our ‘artificial’ objects. As technologies invade even our most personal spaces, reconnecting with nature and other human beings now seems vital.

Unfortunately, both the enthusiast and the neo-luddite may have it a little backward.

Technology itself isn’t on a deterministic course in which humans are pawns in a larger game.

Rather, technologies are an expression of personal narrative that unfolds from the creative needs of human society. This link between technology and people plays out in both the development and the end-use of technologies.

Technology design as a social process

From the introduction of technology in our lives, there has been an emphasis on humans needing to adapt to technology.

Indeed, this may be true in many circumstances, however we may be creating technology that creates a new workflow.

What is often forgotten is that humans are responsible for the technology in the first place. The bicycle is only the bicycle because an inventor combined various materials (technologies in themselves) to create the first bicycle.

This invention assisted in allowing the human race to compete with the fastest land animal, utilising our own physical talents to do so.

People had to learn how to ride the bicycle, adapting the learned workflow to suit their needs. And societal input, and socio-economic context over time has shaped the final product into what we know today.

Most importantly, the bicycle did not develop itself, nor the context that it holds in today’s society.

This idea can be translated to any other technology – even the most complex.

Humans design, build, shape and distribute technologies into the world; it is a human–driven process filed by the need to create.

We need to keep in mind the end purpose, and foster a learning curve that integrates into our own experience, rather than devise artificial processes designed to benefit the technology.

Purposeful technologies for people

Crucially, technologies must also serve an end-use purpose – or solve a user problem.

In today’s post-industrial world, technologies are often only limited by human imagination and are capable of being prototyped by anyone with little formal knowledge in engineering. However, many fail to find traction in the market because they ignore purpose.

For this same reason, any number of advanced technologies haven’t yet left the workshop. Empathy and the needs of humanity are the critical considerations of any technologist or designer.

The link between technology and human is too often undervalued. A technological society is still a human society. Even within the context of rapid technological progress, people remain the smartest investment businesses can make.

This article was written by Gil Poznanski, an innovator, maker and student of popular culture who excels at helping people tell their story and get their projects across the finish line. 

He is an expert in methodology and workflow, something he learned and perfected when he worked aboard in the Hollywood film industry. Nicknamed “The Kosher Tony Stark” by those he has helped, Gil brings a flair to everything he does, and doesn’t shy away from the big projects.