Many stories of technology ignore the better angels of our nature. We read reports of killer drones, job-destroying automation and algorithmic manipulation of human emotions and it reinforces our stories of golems, Frankenstein monsters, and terminators.
Technology of Insight
Insight Timer is an great little mobile app: it times my meditation, offers background music and sounds as well as excellent guided meditations. More importantly, the app’s built-in social network and “gamification” techniques motivate me to use it every day. Its “consecutive days” metric brutally resets to zero if you miss just one day – which apparently was just the incentive I needed to stick to my routine.
To be clear, this isn’t just a story about technology. Meditating every day for more than a year took real effort on my part. But this tool really did help strengthen my discipline in pursuing my meditation practice. It’s technology that has made a real difference to me.
Welcome to The Machine
When we fail to see the intrinsic neutrality of machines, we do more than perpetuate this dark mythos of The Machine archetype; we create a self-fulfilling prophecy. By accepting technology as a container for our power and greed, we doom ourselves to programming and perpetuating these goals. When we expect greed, we program greed, and ultimately, we create greed.
I occasionally run into people working in the field of social change who view technology with deep suspicion, almost as though using it will somehow taint their work, or worse, infect it with the very thing they are trying to stop. While I am sympathetic to these sentiments, it is this wrong-headed thinking that effectively cedes the power of technology to the forces of greed and control rather than harnessing it to help heal the world.
I used to run a mission-driven consultancy that developed technology to help environmental organizations engage people in social change. So I know from firsthand experience just how difficult it is to run the kinds of mission-driven organizations that build mission-driven technology. Developing these unusual business models takes a great deal of creativity and managing their operations is an endless balance between earning money and achieving mission impact. It’s messy work, but when done right, it can build a wonderful work culture for creating mission-driven technologies that heal the world.
And in some cases, those technologies just might even help someone achieve inner peace.