Citizens and technology - regaining control

There is little doubt that the world is changing at a faster rate than ever before. New technologies are reshaping our physical environment and our experiences. As citizens, we need to be able to adapt.

Do we just respond passively to these technological changes or do we try and assert some ‘people power’?

Disruption is good. The human factors in design, engineering and software development mean that our user experience is improving, for example, the smartphone revolution and the small sense of satisfaction we all get when we interact with an excellent digital service. Driving a car is a different and better user experience today, compared with 20 years ago. Often the benefits extend beyond a better user experience by removing (or disintermediating) unnecessary processes that also save us time and money. We all experience these benefits when we use Easyjet, Spotify and Deliveroo (other brilliant services are available!).

But disruption can also feel bad. Technological changes can be difficult for us to absorb because they force us out of our comfort zones by changing our experiences of services, our jobs, our workplace environments and, perhaps most importantly, our interactions with each other. Arguably, our capacity for change reduces as we get older therefore we are less likely to embrace the new and, for some, particularly in remote and rural areas, basic connectivity poses challenges that no amount of ‘willingness to learn’ can overcome. We are creating a risk of isolation, particularly for those in our communities who need support and interaction to continue to live independently. In some cases, we need an intermediary to balance out the technology – an actual human being.

What can we do to regain control?

  • Put trust in, and embrace, technology. Yes, there are risks including some that most of us won’t understand, for example, cyber security. We need to determine our individual risk appetite and then engage at home, in our communities and in our workplaces – better to be the driver rather than a passenger
  • Take every opportunity offered to develop new skills and acquire new knowledge to keep current in terms of employability
  • Finally, retain focus and belief in our human interactions. Let’s prove Albert Einstein right when he said “The human spirit must prevail over technology.”

The reality is that we are living in a disruptive world, in which the pace of change will most likely continue to accelerate. As citizens we will enjoy the good, manage the bad and, most of all, embrace the fact that technology change is, at its core, a human interest story and therefore we are in control.

For more information please contact Alex Matthews (alex.matthews@aabconsulting.uk)

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Alex Matthews

Director, Digital & Innovation

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