It doesn’t take a genius to comment that our lives have been radically transformed by technology.

In every sphere of human activity technological breakthroughs have had a profound impact on how we live and work. In many instances we are playing catch up with the opportunities and capabilities that technology gives us.

But this is nothing new. As long ago as 1860, the Victorian designer William Morris  is quoted as saying: “It is the allowing of machines to be our masters, and not our servants, that so injures the beauty of  life nowadays.”

I remember in 1992 when live television had recently come to India and pictures of a mosque being demolished in Ayodhya were transmitted across the nation led to mass rioting all over the country leaving about 2000 people dead. More recently there were the London riots of 2011 that were aggravated and spread through Facebook, Twitter, video and text messaging.

In the process of writing this post, I have a little pop-up notification that reminds me of yet another email that has come through and is demanding my attention!

They say there is more information in a Sunday newspaper than what a person in the 17th century had to deal with in their entire lifetime! All rather overwhelming! This sense of overwhelm and constant stimulation are also  responsible for rising levels of negativity, distractibility and depressive thinking in modern life.

But lets go to the roots of this.

One of the significant drivers behind this technological explosion is the humble microchip that has been around since the early 1960s.

The exponential rise in the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits has risen at such a phenomenal rate that it has led to what has been called Moore’s Law which states that the speed and power of the microchip doubles every 18 months to 2 years.

Putting that in context since 1983 the productive power of the microchip has increased 8 billion times!

Yet this has at the same time crept up on us so subtly that we hardly notice it – try telling your children you remember a time when there were no emails or you could only watch one channel with whatever they showed you and you will get looks of blank bemusement!

The challenge to us is how can we harness the potential of technology while at the same time being realistic about its limitations? One of the key challenges is how can we use technology to facilitate human growth and potential without being in a reactive overwhelmed mindset to it?

This increasing power of technology is highlighted by Dan Sullivan, leadership coach, who states that if the entire abundance of the Internet is today the size of a golfball, by 2040 its multiplier resources, capabilities and opportunities would equal that of the sun!

In my next blog post I will give a couple of examples of how I have tried to harness the power of technology for positive purposes.

How about you?
How do you find handling technology?
What effect does it have on your life?
How can we, using William Morris’ words make machines more of our servant rather than our master?