Sometimes life in the Technojungle can be a life where we get more than interrupted—we humans get disrupted and even transformed.
I’ve experienced many disruptive technologies and many have transformed my life. The one that domes to mind is the smartphone. I never had a regular cell phone—I never saw the need, that is, until the smartphone came along. I managed to buy one from my sister who was an early adopter. It intrigued me. I never realized it would become my sidekick companion. It changed my life, as did the computer which allowed me to abandon trying to use a pen or typewriter with my tremors. I’m not sure where I fall on the spectrum of adopt, adapt, or appropriate. Sometimes the Technojungle sucks you in like a giant vacuum cleaner.
Let’s take a short safari journey in our minds back to the days when most people were traveling around by horse and buggy, back when the automobile was just on the horizon. The new-fangled horseless carriage, or automobile, was very expensive. Only those people who, not only had the money, but also the desire to be on the often dangerous cutting edge of the Technojungle, would purchase and use such a machine. If you could be someone who bought one of the first automobiles, wouldn’t you have to adopt or adapt it into your life, or adapt your life to the machine? Automobiling became a new life-focusing pastime for some people. It came with promises of freedom to go where one wished.
The new Technojungle machine did not get along well with the horses, nor with some other humans, and altercations occurred often. Yet, the horseless carriage did not fundamentally change the way people travelled until Henry Ford came out with the Model T. It is important because the Model T Ford was af-ford-able and suddenly everybody could have one. This is an example of a disruptive technology or disruptive innovation.
What is a disruptive technology or a disruptive innovation? This is where the Technojungle fundamentally changes the way people do something and causes an economic change in the world of humans. Do you think anyone could have predicted how the horseless carriage would so utterly transform human lives in the future? In addition to the notion of freedom to go places, have you ever wondered what other promises were tossed around as that new Technojungle technology emerged and broke forth on the horizon of human life? Hasn’t it become a disruptive technology that brought unexpected transformations of good and baggage? What results of the horseless carriage and automobile, otherwise known as the car, can you see when you look around you as you are on safari? Can you think of any questions to ask yourself about other technologies, including ones on the horizon? How did people adopt, adapt or appropriate the horseless carriage into their life? Did they have any choices? Do you have any choices regarding the automobile? How about possible choices with other technologies in your life?
Clayton M. Christensen, coined the term disruptive technologies and later, in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma, changed it to disruptive innovations. We can look back in human and Technojungle history and identify quite a few disruptive technologies that caused a major impact to the way people did something and caused changes to markets and economies. Typically, the term disruptive technologies is used to refer to a technology that changes markets which can then also affect our humanness and humanity. In this book we are questioning Technojungle technologies and how they disrupt our being human beings.]
We are looking at the more human aspects of technological change as they have emerged in our futuristic life, and at how they might change our future to come. We are also looking to see and then ask questions, about what has been unexpected and what might be unexpected in the future. We want to know and understand as much as we can about the baggage that comes with the promises of the Technojungle and how we might deal with this baggage both now and in the future.
Technologies—the Technojungle—have changed our human lives so drastically, that one could say they have disrupted or transformed the way we do things and the ways we live from day to day. Can you think of ways various transformative Technojungle technologies have the potential to impact our ways of being human?
Humanity stands on an immensely important cusp—the emergence of transformative technologies as never seen before. The Technojungle has, in the past, challenged the human body, and the brain. With the invention of the computer and AI—thinking machines, as Alan Turing called them, the Technojungle is taking on the human mind as never before. This makes the idea of transformative technologies a super-priority for we humans who want to ensure that we retain our humanity in the rapidly transforming Technojungle. While some are watching for the next big wave they might surf in the markets, we want to make sure we don’t miss anticipating a change that might impact our humanity and humanness in negative ways.
The other day I read an article that shocked me. It seems that software is now available that can write articles and even books. I always thought that good writing was a creative process that required great human skill. However, there are types of writing that are formulaic, or are simply the gathering of data from various specific sources, such as in writing a report. I’m not so sure a machine would ever write a book about being human and living in a world of technology.
What Technojungle technologies have you thought about which are emerging to displacing humans? We often think of robotics as taking over many tasks that humans do. Is smart robots your top pick?
Popular music young people listen to is very formulaic and often utilizes computers in its production. I heard music produced by AI which sounded exactly the same, yet had no human involvement in its creation. I’m not sure it had feeling and emotion.
Based on what I have observed with the emergence of other disruptive technologies—I’m thinking here of typesetting and prepress in the printing industry—what we might see is the acceptance of a product of lesser quality initially. It then matures into a process that replaces humans and produces a final product that is nearly devoid of human imperfections—sterile. I notice a lot of music that seems to have fallen to this outcome. This, of course, will be only possible if AIs manage to duck the illogical imperfections and messes of humanity. If not, I wonder if the opposite will occur—the AIs become confused by the human messes and their products degrade.
Still, there are usually plenty of positives to count when disruptive technologies impact our lives. Are there any technologies you can think of where the product was inferior in the beginning, but later emerged to be superior to products of the past? Which ones will displace humans? What pros and cons have you noticed?
But what will this mean in the future when the technologies of the Technojungle improve? Will we eventually see, not only menial labour jobs replaced, but more complex skilled work, then trades and even professions, such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, and more? Will all human work be replaced by intelligent machines in the Technojungle of the future?
We need to look at how disruptive technologies or disruptive innovations emerge and transform our human lives in expected and unexpected ways. We also need to consider impacts on our world around us, such as the Earth’s environment.
How do environmental impacts affect life. We can look and see what has happened and is happening, and then ask questions. Can you note how transformative technologies of the Technojungle are adopted, adapted or appropriated into our human lives? What are some of the promises and dilemmas you find? Can you try to spot some of the baggage?
Early keen adopting humans venture forth into the Technojungle, and are willing to struggle along with a fledgling technology. As the technology matures, other people join in. Development of Technojungle technology can be costly. Often, along with the great costs are possibilities of huge financial returns for stakeholders which are usually corporations. Can you name any corporations that have rushed to be the first to the marketplace? Are there cases where they want to have their particular standard adopted? Did the corporation keep their development a secret, or did they leak misinformation or disinformation to mislead competition?
Consider the smartwatch. The idea of a watch as a communications device was introduced in the comic strip Dick Tracy. Tracy was a police detective who communicated with his associates and others using his wrist radio/video phone. This was a far-fetched Technojungle idea for the 1930s. It took about 85 years for the idea of a watch that is truly much more than a watch to emerge.
At the time of this writing, the smartwatch may not have a long way to go before it is a video phone. Still, people are wondering if they really need a smartwatch. Do you have, or want, a costly smartwatch that has to be upgraded and updated regularly? Don’t most people seem to prefer to have a watch that shows them the time with analog hands pointing to numbers, lasts for years and is part of their fashion wardrobe? Hey, shouldn’t we expect longevity from all our Technojungle technology? That might be a bit more humanizing. Or are there still certain things in life that humans are just reluctant to have Technojungle technology transform or replace? Time will tell if people will want to tell time from something that can be so much more than a watch that tells time.
Many big Technjungle players are banking on the idea that we actually do need a smartwatch, so they will make sure they find a way to tell us why and to sell it to us. Can you see the smartwatch as a step closer to integrating smart technologies with, and even into, our human bodies? What might this mean? One day we won’t have to remember to bring our devices and there will be no danger of losing a device or having it stolen, since it may be part of our human body. However, I’m not sure if I want to have to find the time, after the doctor, dentist and barber to go elsewhere to get the hardware embedded in my body updated. That would be some incredible baggage to deal with.
I have observed that many people don’t wear a wrist watch. They rely on their smartphone for time and they carry it around all the time. Wait! When was the last time I wore my nice looking wrist watch? It needs a battery and is now dusty, so it has been a long time. I guess I am one of the very people I just mentioned. UPDATE: I managed to change the batteries in several of my watches. I now have several vintage—even collectors item—digital watches running which I collected decades ago.
Still, since a watch is something that many people wear all the time, isn’t the smartwatch an excellent interim solution for whomever wants to track our every move in our real world and to communicate with us humans on a constant basis? Our watch will watch us as we watch our watch. Finally, the watch will be appropriately named.
We might need smart watches to manage life in a post-pandemic world. Contact tracing and vaccination records would be two uses. How else will smart watches be considered in the post-pandemic world?
If we wear a Technojungle smartwatch, we are connected to the Internet and the Technojungle all the time. Will it become the main focus of our lives through constant interactions? Now that is transformative—even disruptive. How will this be similar to what many people experience with the smartphone now?
What will life be like when our technology is embedded in our body and we can’t take it off? Now that could be a real dilemma. Is this a promise for a future where we are constantly plugged in to the Technojungle and the Technojungle becomes part of us? A sort of marriage, I suppose. You are born and the first thing they do is embed the chip and hook you up to the Technojungle. You don’t have a say in the matter. You are literally born into the Technojungle. I don’t think many people are expecting anything like this. They only see a few steps into the future of the Technojungle. You actually need to see deeper. Think about it. This could become the law, for security reasons. Think how the pandemic changed the world in a matter of weeks.
Are transformative Technojungle technologies any different from other technologies which simply make a modest change in the way we humans do things? Whether you are forced into using a new one or are hanging on to an old trusted one as long as you can, the Technojungle (and corporations) usually wins out. Resistance is futile.
Have you noticed any controversies arising over new transformative Technojungle technologies? When this happens, doesn’t the focus usually get shifted to the promises of what it will do for our lives? Is there any focus on a critical discussion of what unexpected outcomes might accompany the technology? It seems people seldom look for the baggage that may be coming along.
Does the focus ever remain on how the technology might impact our humanity, or are we always directed away from such thinking? At the time of writing this book, a great example of this is emerging. I’m referring to the autonomous driving car. One developer, in testing the technology with humans, found that people would question the decisions the computer would make as to which path to take to a destination. While there is some controversy over these self-driving cars, I don’t think there are nearly enough questions being asked. What questions would you ask about autonomous driving cars? What baggage have you noted?
Let’s take a moment to look at a few other technologies. Some transformative Technojungle technologies may emerge slowly. It may not be fully evident to each of us how the technology might change our life and our humanness. I think 3D printing is an example of this. I may ask myself, “How am I going to use 3D printing?” Then I consider, what I might think if I have surgery and they tell me they are replacing of my human body parts, or an organ, with one that was printed using 3D printing? It would be produced from some foreign material in some foreign laboratory. Will you one day have all your body parts and organs scanned for future 3D printing if required. Custom body parts to match the originals if they fail.
On the other hand, I may own something with a broken part—perhaps an old collectable radio. I could go to the library and use the 3D printer to print a new part from code filed somewhere in the Internet Technojungle.
People have been said to suffer from a broken heart. Someone one day will claim they suffer from a broken part.
Were you around to witness the beginnings of the elimination of physical media? Did you get to watch people moved from media, such as a record, they could own and hold in their hand to renting or buying all music and movies in digital form that never exist in the real world? In this case, what is it you actually own anyway? Has the price of the product dropped? Do the content creators, musicians, authors, etc., get paid the same or more? Who is making the money?
If you happen to be a book hound and prefer to read a real book that you can hold and touch and that has texture, look again. Have you discovered that many book titles are no longer living in the real world? On your next visit to your library, you might find a Technojungle 3D printer in place of a book shelf that used to hold your favourite books. A 3D printer is incredibly useful, for sure. Still, at the time I am writing, plenty of books are being printed, as are magazines. So they are likely going to be around for a long time. We just like to have something we can touch and hold. We want to own something, but, doesn’t the Technojungle want us humans to think we own something? This is a dilemma.
Let’s go back and look at the Model T Ford. You might have been able to hold on to your horse and buggy for a while, but pretty soon because of the inexpensive Model T, there would be too many cars in the growing Technojungle of roads and highways. Soft dirt roads, friendly to horse hoofs, would all soon be paved.
You may want to hold on to your older technology, however, eventually don’t you have to give up because everybody is using the new technology? Who could have imagined a few years before that the not too distant future would be full of the Model T automobile? Who would have imagined the massive Technojungle automotive industry that would arise, the accompanying reliance on oil, and the resulting pollution that would follow? That’s a lot of unexpected outcomes and baggage to consider. Was all that a promise for the future at the turn of the twentieth century? The Model T changed the way people would get around, changed the world and what it means to be human. How might you have adopted, adapted or appropriated the switch from your trusted, friendly horse and carriage to the cold, hard, often unreliable and usually unfriendly automobile? Have you ever considered the pros and cons of the automobile? What would life be like without it? What alternatives would have been developed?
In what ways can the Internet and the rest of the Technojungle be viewed as causing a similar perhaps even deeper transformation in our human lives? It is changing the way we get information and communicate with each other and has been for decades now.
I went from visiting the library or phoning somewhere for information to having to find everything on the Internet Technojungle myself. I now have to sift and filter through a massive amount of information as I go, hoping that the information I discover is accurate. If you grew up with the Internet, have you ever considered what it might be like not to have it? It is great to have the ease of doing this all from my home, or in my hand where ever I am. It is wonderful to have access to so much information.
How much time and energy do you spend on the time consuming job of screening massive amounts of information presented to you and determining the veracity of the information? Does a published printed document provide better concise and accurate information? On the other hand, not having to drive to the library probably saves some time and money. What trade-offs can you think of to consider?
Sometimes it is difficult to determine the most humanizing path to take in the Technojungle. If we keep questioning though, the paths may become clearer. Questioning can be like our machete that cuts through the jungle and reveals the path and the next steps to take.
It can be difficult to determine what unexpected outcomes and baggage new technologies of the Technojungle may be bringing along with their promises for the future. People driving a Model T in the 1920s had no idea that there would be an energy crisis in the seventies, and that their trusted gold-based dollar would become oil-based. They probably never considered that the food on their dinner table could eventually said to be “marinated in oil” because it was trucked in from somewhere far away.
In your imagination, go back and tell someone in 1990 that in only twenty years they will be carrying around a Technojungle computer in their hand more powerful than most existing in that day. Tell them that much of their day will be spent interacting with the device and that it will be a phone allowing people to call you at any time anywhere and they will expect an answer. If you could go back a couple of decades and tell people about the technologies they will have and how their time and attention will be spent, what do you think they might say?
In my lifetime I have witnessed the growth of the computer Technojungle. It leapt from a large set of rooms to individual offices and homes. It jumped onto desks, it stepped into laps, it crept into hands and is now crawling up arms taking time with it. Along its journey, it has shrunk in size and grown in strength and power. It connected with other computers so together they could think as one. It took over the phone and all other communication technologies. It demanded more time and attention and attained the ability to peer into every aspect of human life. It controls and manipulate humans like nothing has ever done before. It thinks for humans and governs the perceptions of humans. It has turned the habitat of humans, the Earth, into a giant network similar to the neural networks of the human brain. It promises everything, yet remains a confusing enigma. It knows everything except how to be human, something it desperately wants.
What will be on our horizon of the Technojungle future that will transform the way we humans do something now, and have some sort of impact on our humanness? We want to consider it carefully as we appropriate it suitably into our lives. How can we learn to look ahead and attempt to see unexpected outcomes and baggage that may come along with a new Technojungle technology? How can we humans prepare for a transformed life in the future? What are the promises we are hearing these days? What sorts of dilemmas might we humans face as we are transformed by our future in the Technojungle? What dangers exist deep in the Technojungle?
It’s not that nobody is thinking about these issues and the impending disruptions to our human lives and our planet. We just need many more people looking, seeing and asking questions. I believe we all need to think seriously about the issues and to mitigate the impacts of the inevitable baggage that always comes with new Technojungle technologies. Can we determine all of the possible baggage that we will have to unpack someday? Certainly not, but we can certainly catch some, and hopefully catch something important?
Our lives in the Technojungle are, and always will be, changing—usually in ways we may not expect unless we look carefully down the path ahead. The Technojungle will always be presenting transformative and disruptive technologies. They will appear among the endless flow of new technologies that will alter our human lives as we safari into the future. It will be a future we may never fully expect. One where we will always be unpacking and dealing with baggage, looking for how we can find ways of being better human beings in the Technojungle.
Two hundred years ago, people lived much the same way as their parents—not transformed much by technology. At least not over and over, or on a daily basis. Now everybody has their human life and their online life transformed by the Technojungle. What might it be like in the next hundred years? One type of baggage we all must deal with is too much data and information to read.