These words uttered by philosopher Aldous Huxley stand the test of time. Think 2000, 2008, and now, 2020; painful periods which brought us social chaos, to go along with remarkable technologies. Capital markets rewarded risk-takers back then who thrived on chaos and relentless efficiency at the expense of a society slower to pick up the signals. They didn’t suffer fools gladly. Steve Jobs and Donald Trump made out like bandits the last time the world froze in time. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos rule the roost today.
I see it happening all over again. I’m better equipped now to handle this new dystopia. Here’s my challenge to anyone instigating chaos and new opportunistic technologies, while reaping inordinate benefits at the expense of others: why not flip the equation and help those disadvantaged by the better angels of your nature? (yes, this includes you, Uber and Lyft) I believe civic responsibility holds the key to leveling the playing field versus a collective push towards gaming the system, data collection, and profiteering. Mindsets have changed dramatically in the tech world since the last recession, and there is more willingness to democratize the secret sauce and share success. Society, propped by massive egos and cult of personality, now embraces empathy and compassion for others.
In full disclosure, I have a narrow viewpoint coming from the tech sector, which is gleefully milking the moment as we speak, in the same manner, specific industries benefited the most from 2000 and 2008. A vast portion of society suffered back then, just like now. Information was a lot less ubiquitous. Now, everyone keeps tabs on all things essential and trivial. The individual is empowered, critical knowledge is accessible, and moonshot opportunities are in plain sight. However, digital divisions persist because of the pandemic — wreaking economic havoc, social chaos, and poor governance. The precipice of change is upon us, especially in the tech sector.
Rather than offering up our talents to frenzied geeks and business people eager to loot a chaotic world, let’s move in a kinder direction — towards social purpose and technology enablement.