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Clear the fear!

April 21, 2009

I recently came across a book review that made me think about technology from a macro perspective. Considering the larger effects of technology and the implications it holds for society in the present and in the future, questions of global proportions emerge…

On behalf of the publication The Futurist Docksai (2008) reviews Dr. William E. Halal’s book discussing society’s general perceptions about technology and its effects on the future. In his book, Halal (2008) points out society is in a “crisis of maturity” with regard to the types and amounts of technological choices available to consumers in business, personal and other environments. Halal (2008) posits that a number of maturity issues are forcing the global community to “grow up” together and through several distinct phases of growth, the global community will reach maturity as the proliferation of information systems and e-commerce portals grow through various types of breakthroughs.

Green business, sources of alternative energy and other sustainable collaborative efforts, according to Halal (2008), will facilitate advances in remote medicine, education and government by 2020 and by 2030 the global community will have realized an unprecedented level of consumption and industrialization on all fronts. Halal (2008) hypothesizes such changes will bring with them highly complex and emergent problems of intercultural conflict, including weapons of mass destruction, to the extent a “global shift of consciousness” will be necessary. Somewhere between 2040 and 2050, Halal (2008) predicts a new global order comparable to the fall of Rome and World Wars I and II. Ecological changes and disasters, according to Halal (2008), will continue as in decades past however the author does not theorize such events will be out of scale with “normal dysfunctions of any social system.”

As Halal (2008) based his technological forecasts upon data from the TechCast Project (out of The George Washington University, my alma mater) which gathers data from meta-analysis of opinions from global tech experts and the literature, his predictions are not out of sync with academic and industry opinions. The credibility of Halal’s (2008) synthesis is important to consumers of research because random and/or unsubstantiated event predictions could adversely impact those who rely on such information and provide skewed decision making as a result. Halal (2008) cited a number of future conditions which were quite plausible when surveying current events (e.g. ubiquity of computers, information and innovation) making it easier for the reader to imagine the outcomes forecasted.

An important theme in Halal’s (2008) work is reassurance to readers that the current worries they are barraged with on a minute by minute basis are representative of a much larger shift in worldwide conditions. Further, Halal (2008) presents the argument that while current events viewed on a micro basis might leave individuals with a heightened sense of worry, there is comfort that such global community events that are part of a bigger scenario that will make up our collective history. Halal (2008) is cautious to point out, however, that gadgets will not solve the world’s problems and the world’s inhabitants must approach turbulent times with a sense of collective calm and thoughtful problem-solving tact lest the weight of the tasks at hand derail progress at the expense of one an over another.

The bottom line is this: it’s easy to wake up each day and absorb by proxy the problems of the globe. The challenge is to “clear the fear” and face today’s problems with tomorrow’s solutions – through technology. Fear stems from lack of understanding and creates inertia. Where will inertia lead us?

Resources:

Docksai, R. (2008). Will technology create a wiser world? [Review of the book Technology’s promise: Expert knowledge on the transformation of business and society]. The Futurist, 42(6), 61-62. Retrieved January 15, 2009, from ProQuest Science Journals database. (Document ID: 1570228001).

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