The Future of Life

No matter what publication or article I review, electronic or otherwise, I see everyone talking about the Future of Work. Last time I looked (given a margin of error of 50%), work was about 35-40% of any given week. If that is the case, what happened to the other 60-65% of our life? Should we not be trying to understand what technology has done for us in that arena? Can we live better, longer, and be less stressed?

I have been an HR Technologist my whole career (and it has been a long one), I have seen upheavals, technology advancements, cyclical trends (yes, the cloud is the what hosted used to be, just with a slightly different connection), and yet people have still persevered. So why the interest in the future of work these days? Is it really that different when you break it down into why do we work? Humans invented work, I would hope we can also change it to suit our purposes.

I maintain that work is changing, but so is everything else around us, so instead of concentrating on just where and how we work, and what we might be doing, perhaps we should be looking at our lives, and how that will be changing, primarily these days because of technology.

So let’s start with what is a technology and why is it affecting our lives so dramatically now? My simple explanation is that anything electronic or mechanical is technology. It may be old or new, but technology is a tool to make something happen. I use the wheel as an example, it was a new technology back in the days and it impacted society in ways we could not imagine.

And it is allowing us to work almost wherever and whenever we want. It is changing what we do, how we do it, and even if we need to do it. It has been the promise of technology to allow us to have more free time. But is that true as we hurry through our workweek only to bring some of it home with us, using our commute time to more productive uses? Squeezing “quality time” into our hectic lives.

Where did WE go wrong, or are we taking technology too serious, should we attempt to make it our “friend”? I am a proponent of technology, I love it, and I don’t want to see innovation slow down! In fact, I want it to speed up so that maybe I can vacation on the moon or Mars in my lifetime.

But the concentration on technology seems to be geared to make us humans MORE productive (i.e. be able to more work), not enjoy life better.

I do see terrific advances in medicine, transportation, living, and household items, and protection from natural disasters, to name a few, but the concentration of investment and effort seems to be in the areas of productivity – make more, faster, with more profit.

My perspective on technology is allowing us to create a lifelong learning mentality, that through communication and exchange of ideas, we grow, we learn, and we contribute. And the vast stores of information that continue to be gathered should be allowing us to apply the analysis of discovering trends, tracking their impacts, and making course corrections and making those corrections available to the world.

I feel we can raise the stature of us as humans to higher levels of knowledge and favorable impact using the technology more wisely, concentrating on its ability to aggregate, analyze, experiment, and simulate solutions that might be significantly beneficial through further innovation using HUMAN thought and ideas. But we need to create that time and luxury to focus on this as opposed to just the future of work. Technology begets technology, but only with human innovation and intervention.

My belief is “Would we make greater advances in our human society if we spent more time on living and creating solutions to solve the larger problems in our world than trying to solve how to be more productive”.

I think our technology is at a stage of promoting more crowdsourcing and global connections of ideas to generate practical, long term solutions to things like the environment, living conditions, education, and health. If we are to realize the promise of technology to give us more free time, perhaps hidden in that promise is also the ability to make an impact on the future of life.