3 Reasons to Believe in Technology’s Good Side
As we prepare for a new holiday season, the New Year, and a new decade, there is another “new” happening on the horizon: the release of the new Star Wars movie. A cultural event in its own right, Star Wars movies and their messages of have become part of the modern zeitgeist. Take the force for example, with its dark side and light sides. It’s now a shared modern metaphor for choosing how we use our powers for good (light) or for bad (dark). For me, technology, the primary power of our modern age, is currently seen as dark force by many. From online trolls and giant privacy breaches to young generations lost in smartphones and election scandals, technology is getting a bad, bad rap across the media today and, frankly, that makes me sad.
I chose to pursue computer science and math at NYU at a time when no one who looked like me (a woman from an immigrant Italian family) was pursuing technology as a career. From that time to today, the technology world has always represented opportunity and potential to me. It’s why I helped found ARA—an organization dedicated to attracting, retaining and advancing women in technology. I believe that an industry where work can span from nanochips to rocket ships has room for everyone and the potential to help solve most any challenge.
As we end 2019 looking ahead, I want to look back at three powerful and positive successes the world has seen as a result of recent technology innovations. Why? To remind us that, as with “The Force,” technology is not good or bad. What we as people, as companies, and as governments do with technology is where good or bad come into play. So let’s focus on the good now, and take it into the decade ahead:
#1: The Personal Computing Revolution
From desktops to lap tops to smart phones, personal computing has transformed how we work and communicate. The internet would only be a resource for the few and powerful without personal computers, which have given individuals the ability to learn, to code, to create and to communicate via the Web. It’s broken open the global commercial marketplace allowing businesses large and small to reach customers wherever they are. It’s broken down information barriers by giving 80% of the world access to the internet where they can find information and resources for themselves.
The arrival of the personal computer and its subsequent descendants transferred unprecedented power from institutions to individuals. Today you can go to school with your computer, bank with your computer, reach family around the world on your computer, share news with millions through your computer and apply and interview for jobs on your computer. The world has been never been more open, visible and accountable and that is because we as individuals are armed with the tools to pry it open, analyze it, and hold it accountable.
#2: Clean Energy Technology
With the global population racing towards 8 billion, people around the world need new and better ways to fuel our lives. Technology is playing a central role finding ways to live that are better for the environment.
Green/sustainable technologies that leverage renewable energy sources, from the sun to the oceans and winds, will help propel us to a greener and better future. From electric cars and solar panels to wind farms and carbon engineering (removing CO2 emissions from the air), we are relying on technology wizards and their technical wizardly to help save and sustain the planet.
#3: Technology in Healthcare
Medical professionals and institutions today are transforming healthcare with technology so that people the world over can lead healthier, longer, better lives. Doctors and nurses are now equipped with mobile tablets that can give them rapid access to patient information as well as medical resources and colleagues. Doctors on one side of the world can collaborate in real time with colleagues on the other side. Robotic arms support surgeons in complex operations. Medical devices are improving the lives and opportunities of people with disabilities. The numerous options and incredible precision of medical imagery are saving lives through early diagnoses and prevention. Growing global databases of health, genomic and disease information are helping scientists and doctors instantly share critical information in order to help diagnose, treat and heal their patients with speed and accuracy.
In every corner of the healthcare world, from pharmaceuticals to medical devices to patient care, technology advances are having a powerful and positive impact on our lives.
My Hope for the Decade Ahead
When I think about some of my favorite moments in history, technology plays a starring role. From moon landings to code breaking machines that changed the tide of war, technology is an underpinning of every human advancement. My big hope for the decade ahead is that we focus on taking the best of technology in every field (science, healthcare, education, agriculture, community planning, media, energy, tourism, conservation, everything) to do the best for the most people. I am looking forward with hope and excited to see how technology can help us tackle the challenges and opportunities we have ahead.