The definition of technology has suffered a narrowing scope evolution over the course of the last couple of decades. It seems that the scope of technology has accompanied the Darwinism of the word itself from technology to tech but did we miss something important during this transition?
Apparently, the official technology definition still refers to a general, non sector-specific application of scientific knowledge to a practical application. However, the common sense that prevails nowadays is that technology has become “only” tech as in all online tech applications. When someone talks about tech, words like cloud, social, mobile come intuitively, implicitly and almost exclusively to mind.
This is not intended to underestimate the value of tech as simplistically defined above. The internet revolution, including its two subsequent social and mobile versions has completely revolutionized the way we interact, share and consume, and has done so in an amazingly short time frame.
But strangely enough (or not), the global challenges technology was supposed to solve decades ago still remain the same.
The world as a whole is facing the same, albeit more pressing, energy and resources challenges that it faced twenty years ago. The worrying difference is that it seems to be trendier to solve other virtual connectivity and online issues than these long standing global issues. Many entrepreneurs ambition to learn computer science only to build the next facebook, not to solve the global energy challenge and these two are and will be intimately related (I mean computer science and global issues).
Regardless of whether you are on the climate change denier or proponent side, some facts are universally accepted. No one is denying that in the next few decades we will face an energy challenge bigger than any other the world has faced in the past. Similarly, water resources will become even more limited to solve local needs and this can dangerously become one of the biggest sources of global conflicts.
Bill Gates said in his own words that to solve the energy challenge for this century we need hundreds of crazy and blindly-ambitious people working on what they each believe will be the solution for the energy problem. Only this will bring us the next sustainable energy breakthrough technology.
Peter Thiel, in an even more extreme quote, said that we wanted flying cars and all we got was 140 characters and he even believes that the rate of technological innovation has been slowing.
Elon Musk did even better; he actually started changing the world against everyone and everything even before he started talking about it.
Now this is not to say that we should quit working on the narrower definition of tech and all start building flying cars tomorrow (we already are by the way).
Tech, in its shortest definition, will be crucial and play a major role in helping technology as a whole solve these global issues so perhaps the best approach is to start using tech to develop other traditional technology sectors and jointly work on solving impactful and meaningful problems.
The world needs crazy entrepreneurs to face big technological challenges again. This will distract us from solving less pressing virtual problems and in the end make us dream like flying cars did in the past.
To put it simply, more than tech what the world really needs is boldtech.
Article by Rui Rodrigues
Image courtesy of behance