Venduco

Blog site of  a volunteer activist

  • Ian Wells

Create apps that meet needs not wants

I too love attending events like Ministry of Awesome and startup weekends and tap into the enthusiasm and talent of so many (usually) young people in New Zealand. Fantastic feeling that in this world of exponential growth, almost anyone can make software and tech that can change the world.   The Singularity University was frothing with potential and excitement ( and danger) for all who attended.

That's the exciting world of tech. Its why so many people worldwide are attracted to the hope the tech world generates. We all need hope. Our religion used to train us in retaining hope, even in the face of impossible odds ( death for example).

Today its easy to look for hope in consumerism, such as, I hope I get a bigger car. Or, more to my liking, I have hope in creating a business based on a new app or software system. That hope is exciting and vital

So what is our hope for the world? For our species? Its easy to slip into a pessimistic view of the   future: global warming, species extinction, terrorist attacks, atomic or germ warfare.

And the future is not knowable till we get there ( similar to software quality measurement, strangely enough) .  I feel like I have 2 worlds in my head - hope of tech, worry of the planet.

Let's take climate change. There have been a number of great analyses recently of why us humans are not on track to "solve" this:

Don't even think about it - why are brains are hard-wired to ignore climate change, A great book that goes through all the reasons why we don't act enough on climate change, and itsPsycho analysis of climate change - the reason climate change, clearly one of the biggest dangers to our lives,  is so hard to "solve" and so easy to deny, is because of our brainsThinking Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman's classic book of how us humans make decisionsSapiens - What distinguishes humans from other species, is our ability to imagine and communicate what we imagine to others, so we can work together at a scale way beyond what other animals can. Thousands of people have worked together to build a rocket to the moon, for example. We work together by inventing concepts that don't exist in the physical world and ensuring we all agree that the concept is "real". For example, companies, countries, money.Singularity U.  Moving from physical to information processing allows exponential growth, opportunity and excitement.Collapse -  explains when societies have not been able to solve their problems, even though the solutions were obvious. These problems had similar characteristics to climate change.

The theme from these sources is that climate change is hard to solve because of  our brains.

Our brains have evolved to allow us to survive to this time by solving a completely different set of problems than climate change.

Our brains, despite how smart we think we are, don't allow us to solve problems of a certain nature. Kahneman, in his classic book, actually lists all the thought processes where our brains fail us.

Given our brains and communication are clearly deficient in addressing how to "solve" the climate crises, and given our exponential, innovative tech world can be applied to improve communication and improve "thought processes", where are the tech startups making systems that compliment the weaknesses of our brains and our communication?

In this point of human ( and planetary) history, we desperately need information tools that replace our human communication and processing frailties so we can decide together how to mitigate climate change.

I would love to see tech innovation energy  - and hope - applied to complimenting the ways our brains have evolved.

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