The Weekly Reflektion Week 31 / 2019

This week’s Reflektion is on whether you see the consequences of the innovation and new technology. The inspiration for the Reflektion is from Tom Phillip’s excellent book ‘Humans: A Brief History of How We #¤!?& It All Up’

Where will development of this technology lead? When you say ‘A’ do you need to prepare for ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’….’Z’?

In the Reflektion from week 29 we highlighted the potential risks associated with the application of new technologies and the need to prepare people for how to use the new technology. This week we will consider whether we really understand where new technology will take us.

When people first recognised that round stones roll easier than stones with corners, they started the process that led to the development of the wheel. Could they really have predicted where this ‘new technology’ would lead them?

First the recognition on round stones. Then the modification of non-round stones by chipping off the corners to make them roll better. Then another recognition, the use of round logs to roll heavy objects from place A to place B. Place A being the place the heavy objects were and place B being the place they were needed. Next came the innovation of attaching the round stones to the logs and coming up with a wheel and axle system. Perhaps then, the use of the wheel and axle to build Stone Age go-karts and race each other down hills or even for escaping from pursuing sabre tooth tigers. Obviously, this escape strategy is only relevant where the sabre tooth tiger attack point is at a higher elevation than the escape point. The strategy includes the key assumption that the sabre tooth tiger has not developed a better and faster go-kart.

With further steps in the development we eventually reach driving a Mini 1000 down the motorway while making gestures at the driver of an articulated lorry that cut in after overtaking. A couple of more steps lead to seemingly endless episodes of ‘Top Gear’. Then there are the risks associated with vehicles using the wheel to get around. According to the World Health Organization, road traffic accidents caused an estimated 1.35 million deaths worldwide in 2016.

So, when the first humans chipped away at their stones, pushed the stones onto the logs and built their first moving vehicles did they really think that their efforts would eventually lead to one person dying every 25 seconds and Jeremy Clarkson?

How far sighted do we need to be when we introduce new technology?

We need to be far sighted enough to ensure that the risks associated with the new technology can be managed and that unwanted consequences are eliminated. To this end we need to identify and use methodologies that are suited to this purpose. We also need to ensure that the users get the required information and receive the necessary training before the technology is taken into service. The application of new technology can fundamentally change the way we do business and the way our business will interact with the community and the environment. To this end we need to be foresighted, systematic and imaginative in our assessments.

Reflekt AS