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Is technology making our lives better or worse?

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I had a debate around the enshittifying dialogue the other day. At dinner with an executive from a Big Tech firm, he said that our world is made better with technology, not worse. So, I asked him to give me five examples of how it makes our world better. Here’s what he came up with.

First, technology has simplified our lives. We can find anything, anytime, anywhere. An example? He missed the Eurostar train in Paris to London and it was the last train out. Within seconds, he managed to book a hotel and rearrange everything using his smartphone.

Second, technology has connected the world. We can all trade, transact and talk like never before. Anyone, anywhere, anytime can find opportunities and build a business.

Third, technology has reduced cost to the minimum. The fact we can serve ourselves and do our own thing has meant that service costs are minimised. Businesses no longer have the physical overheads of the past. That’s a good thing.

Fourth, technology enriches our lives from entertainment and media through to relationships and friendships. The fact that we can all communicate 24*7 every day, all day, is a massive benefit.

Finally, fifth, technology has globalised the world. We can order something from five thousand miles away and get it delivered in a day or two, so consumers are saving 1000s in costs.

I listened and sat and thought about it. Then I came back with five ways technology is making our lives worse.

First, we are online all the time and have become prisoners of our own device (ref: Hotel California). We stare at our phones non-stop and, even though we are all now connected, we have no social ability to connect.

Second, we work non-stop. Our bosses and colleagues can access us from midnight to midnight. There is no escape.

Third, we are consuming the planet. In pre-smartphone and pre-internet days, I would only shop on the weekend. Now, I can shop all day long and find myself shopping for things I don’t need all day long.

Fourth, technology is massively addictive. It has deteriorated everyone’s lives by massively intruding in their lives and, in particular, selling their lives. That leads to the final point which is, fifth, the fact that I have become the product of the Big Tech firms. They sell my data. If I get something for free, they I am the product. They use my data to sell to others, and abuse my data in that process.

We ended up discussing the detail and agreeing points on both sides. Technology and Big Tech is improving the planet, relationships and work whilst, at the same time, destroying the planet, relationships and work.

I guess that’s the same discussion everyone has had in history. It’s just that this isn’t history. It’s right here, right now. What’s next?

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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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