IMO: Good Tech vs. Bad Tech

I’ve been trying to formulate my general attitude and philosophy towards tech for the last few months (due to a general epiphany that I should be more intentional about it), and I came up with the following:

Good technology is technology that ultimately gives you back more of your humanity.

I like this mantra because it’s decidedly opposite of what most people think in a techno-forward society – I think most people today think that AI / synthetics is the path humanity is trending towards, which can be scary. But I think that vision can just be one of many for what technology does for humanity.

Take Gusto and Cocoon for example (not trying to toot my own horn since these were/are my employers) - I think these are good examples of good technology because they are apps and services that try to give you peace of mind when it comes to your working life. They are very passive and the bulk of their innovation you should never have to log in to witness. I think these examples supposedly good for your humanity because they give you more time to do things that don’t have to be strictly related to technology, like be with your friends and family, or spending time outside.

Now take Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok – these are technologies that are decidedly bad in my book. They are purposefully engineered to hijack your attention, and they have some of the sharpest minds in the world engineering the algorithms to do it. Your time and your attention is their currency, and the time you do spend on these platforms feels cheap compared to the analog experiences you get IRL.

I think it’s worth it to point out that even though I’m using the labels “good” and “bad”, all technologies are just different shades of grey – there’s just a certain threshold where it’s just easier to call it the shade of gray it’s closer to. I think a lot of people will argue that Instagram and TikTok are not bad because they allow people to connect! And to be creative! And all of the typical arguments for why social media is good. But I think if the “bad” far outweighs the “good” then it’s a moot point on what the benefits actually are.

There are technologies that are more definitively in the middle for me:

Overall, when choosing what kind of work I’d ultimately want to focus on, I think if you can make the argument that it is a good technology, it’d be much easier to convince me to spend my time working on it.

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