Late-stage technocrats

Water flows downhill, and tech solves the easy problems first.

After the launch of Amazon and Google, when smartphones reached critical mass, an easy problem to solve involved bridging information with stuff. So you could use your phone to summon a car, a case of beer, a dog sitter or just about anything that someone with resources might want to get, with convenience.

It took little in the way of insight, leadership or extraordinary effort for these things to unfold. If you didn’t build that app, someone else was going to. The business model existed, the funding was available and the pattern was there to be matched.

And it’s tempting to defend the easy shortcuts that technology exposes. “It’s too expensive for us to moderate…” or “the market will sort itself out” or “We need to hire the obvious person to do this work…”

Sometimes, though, humans show up to bend the curve of technology. They push against the conventional wisdom, avoid the obvious paths, and take responsibility for the impact of their work.

Kheyti is an example of this. Patient capital might not be as seductive as the next obvious step in tech’s evolution, but it matters.

This leads to an often under-asked question: What is technology for?

If we’re simply conduits for the evolution of tech in all its forms, bystanders and witnesses who might profit if we’re standing in the right place at the right time, that path is well-lit. People with capital and influence can make pronouncements about the utility of this approach, and how humans should merely step aside and applaud…

Or perhaps we can show up to bend the curve.

We can decide that technology exists to create opportunity, to help people find resilience, meaning and connection. We can realize that technology changes the status quo, and that change is up to us. Perhaps the tech industry can eagerly accept boundaries, responsibilities and obligations that match the leverage at their disposal.

Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben was right. It’s possible to use this moment of power to eagerly seek out responsibility.

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