Technology: Fear and "INNOVISION"

The technology sector has a significant impact on any country’s economy. So what is technology? It is not just computers or iPods or android phones, but much more than that. It is a social practice that personifies the capacity of societies to transform themselves by creating and manipulating not just physical objects but also symbols and cultural forms. We knew that knowledge is power, imagine what happens when knowledge gets an upgrade and becomes more powerful by technology. This is what Apple, Microsoft, Android, Google and other tech giants ever dreamt of since their very inception. As Steve Jobs said once, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”. In order to strive in this world merely staying a follower may make you the richest man in the cemetery, but a leader might always go to bed by thinking that today he did something wonderful.

Fear - it can do two things, either destroy you or make you, it can only make your character if you follow the footsteps of courage. Jobs followed these footsteps and his intuition, when he lost a quarter of a million dollars in a year. In the legend’s life he followed his heart and Innovation with a vision, which I would like to quote as “Innovision”. Apple was always a step ahead of IBM in innovision and gaining social support.

Scientific and socioeconomic drivers are important elements determining the destiny of a technology, but the way in which the human community ‘metabolizes’ a new technology is equally important in the modern era. Present technology is developing without a sound cultural framework that could give technology a sense beyond mere functional considerations. Fear then end up being a privileged way to incorporate technology into a meaningful context.

What is fear where does it come from?

There are basically five reasons why people get scared.

The first, and most fundamental, is that it’s in our nature. Fear is a psychological process that first evolved in reptiles to allow them to react to threats in a much more flexible way. Whenever we are scared, it is this innate threat perception mechanism that is at work.

The problem is that what helped our stone age ancestors to pass on their genes to the next generation isn’t necessarily what helps people in the modern world to fulfil their dreams (assuming they’ve got round to defining what they are), so it’s important to also look at what triggers this mechanism.

The first and most direct trigger for fear, and therefore the second reason we get scared, is signals coming from our bodies. Any kind of physical discomfort is likely to provoke a fear response. Furthermore, since fear itself causes physiological changes that often cause discomfort (knot in the stomach, tightening of the throat etc), a positive feedback loop can easily be established. This is basically why people get panic attacks.

The third reason we get scared is external stimuli. Drilling next door, a family member or colleague who is upset or angry, even a busy street can, depending on how sensitive you are at the time, trigger the fear response.

A fourth reason we get scared is what Russ Harris in The Happiness Trap refers to as “control strategies”. These are things we do habitually to make ourselves feel better, without necessarily being aware that that’s what we are doing, such as arguing about religion on IEET comment threads. For example, one of the things I often do when I’m feeling anxious is to pace up and down thinking. This often calms me down at first, but by keeping my mind stimulated and active it can also be exhausting leading to further anxiety later.

Only at the bottom of this list, in my view, comes actual perception of real risk. Everybody with the slightest self-awareness knows that many of the things they worry about aren’t really that important. We get things out of proportion, we worry about the wrong things at the wrong time, we worry about things we can’t really do much about anyway, or we complain and then reject any suggestion for actually doing something about it that anyone is unwise enough to throw at us. Once again, what might actually constitute a real threat to the realisation of our goals is not, in general, what our Stone Age brains are given to worrying about.

None of this would matter quite so much if we were better at recognising fear for what it is, rather than always trying to justify our fear by insisting that there really is a risk, while simultaneously denying that we are actually scared (because we are scared of losing social status). But unfortunately the latter is what we tend to do, and among all of our control strategies one is probably more dominant than anything else: reliance on tried and tested routines.

What does fear mean for technology then?

If there is one obstacle in the way of those wanting to promote the proactive use of technology to create a better world it is, very simply, that people are scared of technology, especially new technology. Technology disrupts the tried and tested routines that give our leaves meaning and make us feel comfortable. And instead of “feeling the fear and doing it anyway”, we simultaneously deny that we are remotely scared of technology, and invent all sorts of scare stories to justify the fears that we claim we don’t have. Often, although by no means always, these scare stories take the form of religious taboos, which in turn form part of whole structures of thought whose main purpose is to justify the associated religious rituals and behaviour patterns (read: tried and tested routines). And because of the powerful psychological factors at play, using reason to break down these thought-structures is like using a feather to move a concrete block.

Business Intelligence being an awesome technology advancement in data criticality, still managers do not prefer using BI applications, the fear of not using Microsoft Excel and updating spreadsheets religiously for data storage flow through their blood every day. In other words, assume that your firm wants to satisfy both the Excel-centric and the worksheet-phobic: Does that condemn you to a less-than-optimal (or, worse, self-defeating) multi-vendor approach to Business Intelligence?

It should be possible to satisfy all your objectives and users—provided you have a strategy in place that can “make Business Intelligence better” by using technologies you may already own—like Excel, almost certainly, but also Tableau, QlikView, along with SQL Server, SAP HANA and other relational databases. Using Excel and developing BI apps is what I call ‘Innovision’, give the users what they want to extract the fear out of them, and then with time, propose and make them use what you desired from the incept.

Answer to Fear: ‘Innovision’- Wonder, Curiosity, Scientific Communication as a means of vision to innovate.

Think of a basic human experience, the fear of the dark. We overcome this fear not thanks to light, but thanks to stories, stories that become a path, a curiosity to explore that path. A significant change of that exploration, experience and communication of this fact to the brain helps skip the myth and face the fact, that there is no need to be afraid of the dark. This is how I exactly want to portray ‘Innovision’. Wonder is an effective instrument for conveying a new world picture because of its extraordinary suggestive power.

If Thomas Edison wouldn’t have wondered to have electric lights that lasted for a longer period, I doubt of the invention of a light bulb. So how does wonder play a role in innovision, lets refer to the Edison example again, he was not the one who invented a light bulb, electric lights at that time were unreliable, expensive and short lived. Edison innovated on the idea with a vision of turning his wonder of storing the light for a few hours,and this curiosity led to the invention of a light bulb. Of course this wouldn’t have been possible if scientific communication of finding the right filament to use, and running lower voltage through the bulb to make it last for a few hours was done.

Hence wonder, curiosity and scientific communication go hand in hand with each other to explore the path of innovision. Hence wonder about practical things and curiosity to explore the fictional path with the magic stick of scientific communication can do wonders in the field of technology and overcome fear of adapting oneself to that technology. Today, people don’t fear the bulb, who knows… in the older age they would have thought a bulb to be a witchcraft.

It is necessary for an individual to uncover his blanket of fear and explore things, he might be the next Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison or Bill Gates and many other renowned personalities in this wide and interesting field of knowledge.

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