I recently read the article “Qualcomm sampling Wi-Fi 7 silicon for next-gen access points” on The Register website, and it came to my mind how fast technology is evolving to the point that we don’t even have time to keep up with it. Which leads me to the question: Does technology really need to evolve that fast?
Well, I don’t want to comment on this post anything related to the article that I’ve just mentioned (however you can read it here). In fact, I would like to propose a reflection on, not only our relationship with our technological items, but our relationship with consumption.
There are many ways in which we can reflect on my initial question. We can say that the first justification would be the Moore’s law which, which states in short that the processing power doubles every two years according to our ability to reduce the size of transistors, that is, technology is expanding in the way it was predicted; and the second justification could be aimed at economic activities, which expand according to technological evolution.
My limited view of technology and the market tells me that today technology expands more in order to meet the illusory expectations of a capitalist industry, instead by the real need for technology to adapt to a computational need for the majority of companies and of users.
I believe that by feeding this unsustainable industry, for instance, replacing our laptops, cell phones, or other gadgets every year, we generate a vicious cycle of false demand for always having supposedly more advanced products. End of the day, few of us are able to measure how much computing power we really need and use, so we end up not controlling our enthusiasm for new non-necessary products.
There’s an article Is Technology Moving Too Fast? written by Stewart Brand that, despite being from the 2000s, seems so current.
I selected a snippet as an add-on, but I recommend reading the original content:
There are scenarios, however, in which technology may brake itself. In the aging population of the developed world, many people are already tired of trying to keep up with the latest cool new tech. Youth-driven tech acceleration could be interpreted as simple youthful folly–shortsighted, disruptive, faddish. The market for change could dry up, and lock-in might again become the norm. Stress and fatigue make powerful decelerators.
Change that is too rapid can be deeply divisive; if only an elite can keep up, the rest of us will grow increasingly mystified about how the world works. We can understand natural biology, subtle as it is, because it holds still. But how will we ever be able to understand quantum computing or nanotechnology if its subtlety keeps accelerating away from us?
Constant technological revolution makes planning difficult, and a society that stops planning for the future is likely to become a brittle society. It could experience violent economic swings. It could trip into wars fought with vicious new weapons. Its pervasive new technologies could fail in massive or horrible ways. Or persistent, nagging small failures could sap the whole enterprise.
As Stewart mentions in his article, I am in favor of a not-so-fast button. The idea is not to limit the development of technology, however I think that for our mental health, and why not for the good of the environment, I defend technological products to have their evolution based on their real life cycle, and not the one created by the market. This does not limit the technological revolutions to come, on the contrary, using our gadgets conscientiously and responsibly brings us closer to our common passion, which is technology.