Painful Truth: Tech not always good for actual technology

What happens when every innovation needs an app, and an IPO?

Silicon Valley comes in for a lot of mockery and schadenfreude these days, and deservedly so.

You can’t launch products that are manifestly useless (Juicero!) or that reinvent the wheel (Bodega’s vending machines, Lyft Van’s buses, or the “co-living” apps that are “having roommates”) without getting called out.

But I don’t hate technology. I’m about as far from a Luddite as you can get. I’m all for better technology, which has given us space flight, reliable vaccines, and clean water that comes out of the tap whenever I turn it on.

It’s just that I feel at odds with the culture of that intersection of technology, innovation, and commerce that we now typically abbreviate down to simply “tech.”

Technology can be any improvement, in any material good. You figure out how to make a better refrigerator, one that’ll run on 10 per cent less electricity? That’s technology.

Tech is getting angel investors to fund your new startup, dubbed Frdjj, so you can ship your product to three billion homes, while generating additional revenue by data-mining your customers’ shopping habits and sending them sponsored reminders to buy a particular brand of soy milk through the mandatory-to-use-your-refrigerator Frdjj app.

For people with money, I worry that tech is sexy, and technology is boring.

That’s a disturbing thought.

There’s definitely some bubbles to come yet in modern tech investing, whether they’re happening now or yet to come.

But what’s invisible, bubble or not, are the worthy projects that are being bypassed and failing to get investing because they aren’t, well, tech-y enough.

If you draw all the smart young folks coming out of universities into one field, it will, to a certain extent, slow down the development of other fields.

So we get another social media app instead of a more efficient way of designing sewer systems, or a cool Uber-for-microbrewing startup instead of a cleaner form of fuel.

Someday, the tide will turn again. But until then, we’ll never really know how much technology we’re losing out on to tech.

Just Posted

On the Langley stage: She never imagined singing in public

Like her character of Belle, Taraneh Talebi is chasing her dream.

Calgary trampled Stealth at Langley Events Centre Saturday night

Pro Langley lacrosse players are off to Georgia for the last game of the season.

Langley school musical is a real beast of a production

Langley Fundamental’s Beauty and the Beast features a big cast, full costumes, sets, music and dance.

Langley on both sides of SOGI rallies

Pro- and anti-SOGI 123 campaigners headed to Vancouver Monday.

Langley girl wins contest and names one of 13 fluffy RCMP puppies

Kaitlyn Szulc of Langley, B.C. was chosen as one of the winners of the 2018 RCMP Name the Puppy contest.

UPDATED: 9 killed, 16 injured after van hits pedestrians in Toronto

Toronto police say nine people have died and 16 are injured

As Osoyoos Indian Band flourishes, so too does Okanagan’s wine tourism

Indigenous practices have driven growth of South Okanagan’s wine history and agricultural influence

Judith Guichon steps down as Lieutenant Governor of B.C.

Election decision didn’t make her best moments from the past six years

Vancouver to rake in $30 million in empty homes tax in first year

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada, and was intended to address the city’s near-zero vacancy rate

B.C.’s snowpack continues to increase, melting delayed

River Forecast Centre official says sudden melting further into the season could cause flooding

Another B.C. First Nation voices support for Kinder Morgan pipeline

Simpcw First Nation claims people living on one-third of pipeline route support the project

Protesters argue both sides of B.C.’s SOGI curriculum at teachers’ union office

The sexual orientation and gender identity program was launched as a pilot project last year

Prankster broadcasts fake nuclear threat in Winnipeg

The audio recording on Sunday warned of a nuclear attack against Canada and the United States

ICBC reform aims to slow rising car insurance costs

‘Pain and suffering’ payouts to be capped, major injury limit to double

Most Read