Technology Brings Peace, Not Peril

from the history-is-on-the-side-of-innovation dept

The future is positive, a dream. Focus on the future. Use science to stay ahead.

Those words didn’t come from a tech-sector legend ? not Steve Jobs or Bill Gates ? or newcomer like Mark Zuckerberg. That wisdom about nurturing the previously unimaginable and embracing what technology offers came from a visionary of a different sort.

I heard Shimon Peres share this insight during my visit to the Peres Center for Peace in June, just three months before the former Israeli president and prime minister died. He saw innovation and technology as improving the world ? a force for good that can break down borders, both national and political.

Peres’ vision stands in stark contrast to Lord Jonathan Sacks’ dystopian commentary calling computers and radical Islamists the “two dangers” of this century, defeated only by “an insistence on the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life.”

On the contrary, I believe innovation and technology will help defeat terrorists and sustain and enhance human life.

Innovation and technology have extended our lives ? most children born in the early 1900s didn’t live past the age of 50, but the average U.S. lifespan is now almost 79 years. Artificial intelligence is helping doctors make complex diagnoses. 3D printing is producing low-cost prosthetics for children and those who otherwise couldn’t afford care. Drones are delivering blood and emergency medicine in developing countries. The rabbi should explain his point that “Every new technology?benefits the few at the cost of the many” to the paraplegic patients learning how to walk thanks to virtual reality.

While Sacks decries the idea of self-driving cars, this innovation can save tens of thousands of lives a year in the U.S. alone. More than 35,000 people died on our roads last year, and the federal government estimates over 90 percent of crashes are caused by human error. Eliminating the great majority of automobile deaths and serious injuries would certainly meet Sacks’ goal of preserving “the sanctity of human life.”

The rabbi also frets technology will threaten “the dignity of the human person.” Apparently, he hasn’t considered the dignity self-driving cars will deliver to seniors and persons with disabilities, providing them with previously unimagined freedom and independence. The ability to read road signs or react quickly to traffic will no longer be needed to travel alone by car.

Similarly, Sacks fears doctors will be replaced by robots with artificial intelligence. However, if health care models remain unchanged, the U.S. may face a shortage of 124,000 physicians by 2025. Virtual care solutions ? wireless health devices and telemedicine technology ? will increasingly allow Americans to see doctors only when necessary.

Tech-enabled remote care also would remove much of the burden of traveling to see a doctor, reducing congestion on roads and easing the strain on caregivers. With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, this developing technology is a mitzvah ? a gift or miracle, which will provide life and good health. Innovations in healthcare technologies could help resolve an emerging healthcare crisis ? they need to be embraced, not feared.

I understand Rabbi Sacks’ dual concerns about the growing use of technology threatening both our jobs and our connections with one other. But every major innovation from the wheel to the factory to the car to the internet radically affected how people work. Certain jobs were lost, yes, but new jobs were created.

More, people lived longer as they ate better, stayed healthier and gained greater access to knowledge. Innovation and the myriad benefits it brings allow us to ascend the Maslow hierarchy of needs, from survival with food and shelter to love and satisfying relationships.

The issue remains whether our love affair with technology and fascination with “things” mean we’re sacrificing our humanity ? choosing the devices in our hands over the people in our midst. Look around a restaurant at dinner and witness seas of quiet people looking at devices. But are devices worse than alcohol, drugs, gambling or anything in excess?

As parents, we should set limits and an example. As adults, we should enjoy the five-sense experience of the people around us, and let these wonders of technology be tools for living rather than our near total life experience.

As President Peres explained to me in June, big data will deliver a new age of being able to predict ? and predictability will change and improve the world. I recall him saying, Four thousand years of commandments will keep the morality. Sixty-eight years of Israel will keep innovations coming. His goal for the Center for Peace is to become a center of innovation.

Technology is changing our lives for the better ? enhancing our security, removing human error from our roads, reducing trips to the doctor and cutting our workload. In doing so, it improves the sanctity and dignity of human lives. And that is a blessing, not a curse.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies, and author of the New York Times best-selling books, Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro

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Comments on “Technology Brings Peace, Not Peril”

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24 Comments
Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

I understand Rabbi Sacks’ dual concerns about the growing use of technology threatening both our jobs and our connections with one other.

I don’t. Admittedly, as a computer programmer I may have a bit of a skewed perspective on the first “threat,” but the second one is just plain wrong. I use modern technology on a daily basis to keep in touch with friends and colleagues in locale as far-flung as Boston, California, Pakistan, France and Australia. When my brother was living in Russia for a time, I was able to use Skype to have real-time, face-to-face conversations with him. In any earlier age, the rabbi’s counterparts would have considered that a miracle. Now that we have it as a reliable part of everyday life, what possible reason could he have to call it a threat?

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Now that we have it as a reliable part of everyday life, what possible reason could he have to call it a threat?”

Unfortunately, government surveillance. I know that is not what the quote author meant, but it is a fact.

I love technology, for some of the same reasons you do, and others. Unfortunately governments keep sticking their noses into things that should not matter to them. They want to dictate how we raise our kids. They want to dictate when and where and how we watch movies or other things. They want to control our speech. They mitigate what we see as ‘news’. I am only starting. Where are they on security for IOT and cars that can be hijacked via WiFi? There are many more, Pharma, copyright, election systems, Corporate Sovereignty (many of which will evolve around technology for various reasons) etc.

Technology is good. How we let it happen may be good, or bad.

Anonymous Coward says:

So a lobbyist says his industry brings peace, big surprise.

The hype around self-driving cars has yet to be realized. Without proper regulation our freedom of movement will become as restricted as private platforms control our speech.

Individual control of technology is essential to individual liberty, dignity, and freedom.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m sorry sir, but you have exceeded your mileage cap. You either have to slow down or pay a huge premium, please insert your credit card to make a payment.

If you upgrade your service level, you will be able to drive faster all the time

There will be ads on the console screen, some of them flashy

Script kiddies will cause the cup holder to randomly slide out and back in again.

Electric cars will have to make some sort of noise because they are so quiet people walk right out in front of them …this leading to car noises being sorta like ring tones. I want one that sounds like Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced x1

Anonymous Coward says:

I dislike many technological advances as it strips me of my control over the world. It strips me of my autonomy. It strips me of my freedom.

I don’t want self-driving cars if my location must be reported to a third-party at all times. I don’t want a refrigerator that orders me food when it’s low – I want to go shopping myself and have the option to change up my diet and see what the store has to offer.

Yes, technology does benefit people of lower incomes by greatly improving access to medical care. But it does not necessarily empower the many if the future is one that someone else controls and guides what we do.

I already find constant “nudges” online to things I might like repulsive. I don’t want more of that.

CanadianByChoice (profile) says:

Even THIS is actually a good thing (in context)

…As adults, we should enjoy the five-sense experience of the people around us…

For the average person, this is probably good advice. For those of us called “Aspies” (we have Asperger’s Syndrome), dealing with “the people around us” (that we don’t know well) in any context that isn’t banal and totally superficial is not just difficult, it’s often impossible. The advent of being able to “connect” to people with technology as a buffer enables us to get to know other people well enough to be able to deal with them, and, sometimes, even deal with them in real life.

no time for a name says:

we have seen this idocy before

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trap_%28TV_series%29

Technology is not universally good it is a tool and is frequently use to violate people not improve their lives

“Sixty-eight years of Israel will keep innovations coming…”

Like the people that have brought us the biggest DDoS attacks in history, that collaborate with the fascist elements of the US and Israeli governments it’s a bright future

Anonymous Coward says:

Things are neither good nor bad...

Things are neither good nor bad…it is how those things are used that is good or bad. But I get his sentiment and mostly agree.

As some have mentioned, I do not like how some technology is being used such as all the tracking by corporations and governments. If the world lasts, I think people will revolt against the level of intrusion we have now and some compromise will be made that allows us our privacy and freedoms.

Anonymous Coward says:

Shimon Peres. The man who ushered in Israel’s nuclear program and the DELETE F _ _ _ ING EVERYTHING protocol of the Samson Option. TL;DR — if the Israelis ever get paranoid about an enemy at the gates (which they are known to do), they can just push the button and nuke the world. Kill ’em all and let G-d sort ’em out.

http://infogalactic.com/info/Samson_Option

Real peacemaker was Mr. Peres. Such a peacemaker that even the Nobel committee expressed regret that they could not revoke his dubiously-awarded peace prize, after he once again moved to build more illegal settlements and encroach upon the previously-agreed on territorial boundaries in the agreement that he, Rabin and Arafat won the peace prize for in the first place.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1912953.stm

Haven’t we had enough of this WW2 leftover the size of Delaware? One that continues to beat the whole world over the head with the tired memory of the camps, in order to maintain an outsize influence on the foreign policy of sovereign nations — and justify its own hypocritical and illegal actions by exploiting its own rendition of history?

Geez, TechDirt must have a big basket of Hasbaranaut deplorables working for them to push a fawning eulogy like this. You conveniently neglected the one signature “achievement” of Peres’ career that also tarnished his reputation as a “peacemaker” amid a growing push for nuclear disarmament.

Oh, wait. “Shapiro” — why am I not surprised.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for you will know them by the trail of dead.

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