The Misplaced Glorification of Technology Over Substance

Jan 11, 2024

Impact starts with "I" - #1

Hey there, I'm Max Hirschl, and today I'm excited to kick off our new article series, "Impact Starts With I," under the banner of our loved company Futureneers.

As a seasoned professional in digital business and sustainability strategy, originally from Austria and now residing in Germany, I have witnessed the digital landscape evolve over two decades. Today, I want to address an increasingly conspicuous issue in our tech-driven world: the glorification of technology over its actual content, function, and utility.

In recent years, we have seen technology, particularly AI, ascend to an almost messianic status. The hype surrounding it often eclipses the actual value it delivers. As someone deeply involved in digital experiences for over 20 years, I find this trend concerning. Modern digital experiences, often limited to basic text interfaces and rudimentary image generation, lack depth and engagement. They are rudimentary at best – a far cry from the rich, interactive, and personalized experiences we should be striving for.

Take, for instance, the search experience on platforms like Google. There's a vast variety of content – bright, diverse, and often promoted – yet the user experience often remains static and impersonal. The potential for a richer, more engaging interaction is vast, yet unrealized. Similarly, the latest gadgets like the R1 Rabbit from Teenage Engineering, while aesthetically pleasing and technologically advanced, often prioritize form and function over genuine utility.

Our cognitive capacities as humans are limited, particularly in short-term memory. Tools and gadgets with small screens and limited editing capabilities fail to consider this, leading to a poor user experience. This becomes starkly apparent when compared to the ease of use and comprehension found in more robust platforms like desktop flight searches, where options are plentiful and editing is straightforward.

It begs the question, why do we continue to produce niche gadgets that don't replace our computers or smartphones? Why are we obsessed with creating more software-based solutions instead of churning out cheap, plastic, often unnecessary gadgets? The real Jarvis of our times is not a gadget but a seamless integration of software into our lives.

In the realm of sustainability, which is close to my heart, the question of necessity becomes even more crucial. Do we really need these products, or are they just fulfilling a commercial need? As we embark on this journey with "Impact Starts With I," I hope to not just question but also redefine our relationship with technology. It's about time we shift our focus from glorifying technology for technology's sake to emphasizing its real-world applications and benefits.

6 impactful actions

Now, let's consider a personal action that can make a significant impact: avoiding the purchase and promotion of meaningless and useless gadgets. This conscious choice is more than a personal preference; it's a powerful statement against the rampant consumerism that often overshadows meaningful technological advancement.

  1. Reducing Environmental Impact: Every gadget produced has an environmental footprint, from the extraction of raw materials to the energy consumed in manufacturing and shipping. By refraining from buying unnecessary gadgets, we actively reduce the demand that drives this cycle, leading to less environmental degradation and resource depletion.
  2. Promoting Sustainable Innovation: When we choose not to invest in products that offer little real-world value, we send a clear message to manufacturers and developers: the market demands sustainable, purposeful innovation. This encourages companies to invest in technology that genuinely improves our lives and the health of our planet.
  3. Fostering Mindful Consumption: Avoiding the lure of the latest gadget helps cultivate a culture of mindful consumption. It's about valuing quality over quantity, substance over novelty. This mindset shift can ripple through communities, influencing others to make more environmentally and socially responsible choices.
  4. Countering the Culture of Instant Gratification: The tech industry often capitalizes on our desire for instant gratification. By resisting the urge to buy every new gadget, we challenge this culture and its implications on our mental health and social behaviors.
  5. Empowering Personal Responsibility: Every purchase decision is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. Choosing not to buy frivolous gadgets is an exercise in personal responsibility, reflecting a commitment to more thoughtful and sustainable living.
  6. Social Media Influence: In an era where social media exerts immense influence, promoting or celebrating meaningless gadgetscan perpetuate a cycle of unnecessary consumption. By using our platforms to advocate for responsible tech use and sustainable products, we contribute to a broader cultural shift towards more meaningful technological engagement.

At Futureneers, we believe in meaningful innovation – technology that serves a purpose, enriches experiences, and contributes positively to our world. Let's not just chase the next big thing; let's make technology meaningful again.

By adopting a proactive and positive approach to creating the future, we can work to shape a better tomorrow for all. This sums up our motivation as Futureneers and we will share more of our experience with system change through Futureneering in different contexts on this blog.