A Golden Era of tech innovation beckons – great news or very depressing?

Golden era
Image by EcoShot | Bigstockphoto

A golden era of tech innovation awaits us, according to Bloomberg. On the face of it, this sounds like great news and exciting times.

Certainly for some but just as certainly not for many, many others.

Any golden era represents enormous disruption and, at least in bygone days, displacement. Traditional jobs get shifted by a constant cycle of automation. Machines in the first Industrial Revolution replaced humans and animals and caused massive suffering.

There were riots and upheavals and the industrialists at the top made more money than seemed humanly possible.

This golden era will be no different. Already we see the enormous sums of money in the hands of a handful of people. And, as before, we are still in the cycle of replacement by machines, this time artificial intelligence.

Of course, those at the top give a lot back. In the US, philanthropy is almost mandatory. And, yes, at the other end of the golden era, technology will make our lives better, or so we hope. Elon Musk was lamenting that graduates choose law over-engineering when the potential to follow in his footsteps is very real.

There is no denying technology makes our lives easier, but it doesn’t make them less busy or less stressful. And we were promised!

There is also the issue that a golden era might look like a golden era but, in fact, be a copper era, covered in a thin layer of gold paint.

We might believe that we are becoming more efficient and more sustainable and that we are using less fuel because we have electric cars and trade Bitcoin. But the energy has to come from somewhere, and while there have been huge improvements in carbon emissions, we are using more and more energy, so achieving carbon neutrality always seems just out of reach.

And what, pray, will this golden era look like.

By 2041, according to a report from Vodafone in the UK, drones will call our children in for dinner, robots will babysit them later, and we will be wearing glasses that will personalise our world view.

If that is a golden era, then it doesn’t sound very golden. Your children will not need calling for dinner, and they will be glued to whatever the latest thoroughly addictive game or app is. They will not need a robot for a baby sitter, and anyway, they will probably be able to hack into it and lock it in the bathroom. And as for glasses with the personalised view, we already have that.

They are called our eyes.

An evolution in tech is a good thing, but some golden era is something that we should treat with great suspicion. And by then, your CEO might be a robot anyway.

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