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Being a Technologist Doesn't Mean You're a Humanist

Being a Technologist Doesn't Mean You're a Humanist
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Having empathy means being aware of the feelings and needs of others. You empathize with a person when you can relate to what is going on with them. This way you can react accordingly. Some people have to learn how to empathize and be taught how to use it within their social interactions. Lack of empathy is common among people with Autism-Spectrum Disorder and studies show that social stress and lack of interactions with strangers may also diminish the ability to show empathy towards others.

The advent of Facebook and many other social media platforms has permitted people to interact and connect in ways that were not previously possible. These big-tech achievements and platforms have given rise to more connectivity between people and have provided valuable communication services to much-needed parts of the world. The companies behind these innovations are mostly lead by tech-savvy business people who are not necessarily in it for human benefits.

Technologist and Humanist

Humanists believe that human beings, individually or communally, should be prioritized over instigated societal beliefs and superstitions. The philosophy behind humanism is to display consideration and compassion towards others and to withhold a sense of empathy. It also means delving deep inside oneself and investing in choices that are good.

Social media platforms and inventions were created by people who had visions and ideas about making money. How do you make the most money possible? In today’s world, you invent and put out a product that will revolutionize the way people communicate and stay connected. You offer to deliver everything they need at any time of the day or night.

As tech-savvy as these innovators are, they sometimes lack the awareness and emotional intelligence to understand the broader sociological and psychological impacts of their platforms. Some of these tech companies have created some rising social issues like addiction and disillusionment. They haven’t analyzed the long-term consequences of their platforms on people’s lives. The psychology behind addictive behaviors is complex and should be taken into account when creating platforms that impact so many lives. Studies show that Facebook addiction affects the brain patterns similarly as drug addicts.

Many of these inventors also significantly lack a sense of understanding toward their users. A multi-billion-dollar business that has the capacity to influence millions of lives every day should also consider possible consequences and the human factor.

It’s not about the People

If they put as much emphasis on trying to understand their users as much as they do in their marketing, we would start to see a shift in the dynamics of these influential companies. Being a successful innovator and business person shouldn’t surrender them the rights to influence and impact so many human lives.

When a company like Amazon takes control of hundreds of markets, local retailers pay the cost. This factor doesn’t seem to be an issue when deciding to swallow up markets in a variety of industries. The thing is, for some of these business people, it never seems to be enough. Some of them want to consume everything without analyzing the long-term effects on people’s lives and livelihoods.

Where Is This All Going?

The invention of algorithms for these platforms has been a heated topic of discussion because of its complete and utter lack of real connection to the users. Algorithms were initially created to filter data and provide relevant information. But experts are saying that this can deliver too much control to governments and corporations and perpetuate bias. The impact on our lives can be tremendous and also devastating.

The question we need to ask ourselves is who has the power and what are their motives. Being good at inventing things is a noble thing. But if that invention is going to impact many human lives then the human and social factors need to be taken into account.

Many of us are opting out of these platforms because our privacy is not being respected and protected. More people are realizing that these platforms were created and are run by people who don’t have any interest in our general well-being.

Workflow Podcast

The WorkFlow podcast is hosted by Steve Glaveski with a mission to help you unlock your potential to do more great work in far less time, whether you're working as part of a team or flying solo, and to set you up for a richer life.

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To help you avoid stepping into these all too common pitfalls, we’ve reflected on our five years as an organization working on corporate innovation programs across the globe, and have prepared 100 DOs and DON’Ts.

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Tom Chambers

Tom Chambers is the Innovation Consultant at Collective Campus.

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