These days there is a lot of talk about how technology is posing a huge threat to our safety and security. From weaponised drones to large-scale hacking, the fabric of society is at risk of a technological meltdown. It can be very scary reading about it in the papers, but in reality, technology has been a force for immense good.
Think about all the lifesaving operations that have taken place thanks to pioneering surgical tools. Think about how reassuring it is to be in contact with our loved ones through mobile phones and online chat services. These are just a couple of examples of the millions of ways that technology has enhanced our lives – and that’s not even counting the little things like electric toothbrushes.
But what about in the area of social projects? Is technology a cause of harm or promoter of good? Things like social media have undoubtedly caused a great deal of misery, through online bullying, body shaming and mental health issues. But they have also brought people closer together, allowed the fostering of shared ideas across national borders and held governments to account.
Cryptocurrencies have infringed on the power held by established elites, such as the international banking institutions, creating the potential for a more democratised social framework. It has allowed business to flourish in otherwise hostile environments and points towards a future where the people, rather than the big corporations, control the power.
Through this kind of technology, enormous social good can come about. Imagine the projects that can get off the ground with funding from crowdsourcing that would otherwise have been turned down at bank or state level. Think of the humanitarian aid that can be raised in a matter of minutes when a disaster happens somewhere in the world. And imagine a world where all transactions are transparent, waving goodbye to a world of clandestine corruption and underhand politics. This is the potential power of cryptocurrency technology. But it needs to be harnessed and managed in the correct way.
Technology can also localise design to help meet specific needs. It is not always the right answer to a problem to throw money at it. It is often better to ensure that the right technology can be used in the correct destination. Social media and mobile technology make this a reality, allowing local people to get access to the solutions they need at the right time.
Technology in and of itself is neither good nor bad. It is what we do with it that counts. We are the driving force behind the technology, so we have the responsibility to make the right choices. Some people might be designing weaponised drones, but others are using technology to force governments to pay more attention to their citizens or take down large corporations that are polluting the environment. This is the social good power of technology that we can really use in the coming years. Be part of that change.