Disrupting our lives

digital-disruptionIt is not that technology has changed our lives, we can all agree on that, but more it is the speed with which our lives have been disrupted by the incessant and relentless changes that technology and innovation has brought about.

Time to get used to almost constant digital disruption is in short supply, and for an ageing population having to accommodate so many new ways and indeed many new demands on our brains and time will leave a proportion opting out, many more struggling with the new – mostly technology driven – changes, and others like members of SeniorNet bravely tackling the learning process and breaking down the barriers.

One of my more concerning thoughts is

that it is not just one thing, one aspect, that change, rather it is every aspect of the system we live within, from the where and how we work to laws and systems, most of which are entirely inappropriate in an on-demand world.

Not long ago there was something called a public telephone booth, and you could hail a taxi in the street to take you to the restaurant where you had phoned through a reservation or to your hotel, now you use your smartphone to call Uber ridesharing service, have your meal delivered from a restaurant to the room you organized via Airbnb, the private house room letting service directly between owner and renter, leading to significant changes in a number of industries and the people engaged in them.

These examples show that new digital platforms being created are changing not just traditional ways of working, but also the systems surrounding them without changing those systems and laws needed to deal with the new realities.

The self-driving cars are real, so let’s imagine that in a few years the majority of cars are driving themselves. It requires a large traffic management system to keep the traffic moving and the cars are networked together so they can communicate location, speed, traffic density, hazards etc. I hate to think of the changes necessary to our laws, insurance and road code and whether you actually need a driver’s licence at all. Add in all the trucks, delivery vans, couriers, and then also boats, aeroplanes, trains, indeed anything that moves, and there is very little time to get new systems or laws in place before disruption is here.

Because the transport industry is so big and so many people are involved it will be a major problem to replace the skill sets, no longer required, for the now unemployed, and whilst over many years in the past such major upheavals has passed partly offset with new industries, it is still a serious disruption caused largely by technology and because there is so much money to be saved by such a switch.

digital-disruption-in-financeThe same can be said for many other industries where technology disruption has upended past method and placed many a worker on the dole. So retraining people affected becomes enormously important and those who recognized the coming changes may have done well becoming computer literate, scientists or computer engineers, or an artist or an entrepreneur.

For those of us no longer in the work force there is a choice of keeping as up-to-date as possible with the technology as it develops, or to step off the hurtling train and miss out on all the good things that tech has brought us including freedom to do more with greater ease than before.

You chose to become a Kapiti SeniorNet member, good choice.