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

Langley photographer captures otters amid the ice

While photographing winter on the river, a local photographer was there when otters caught a fish.

How much does your city spend per person on snow removal?

Black Press Media compares 2018 ice and snow removal budgets of various Lower Mainland communities

Stock trading allegations dismissed against former Langley spiritual leader

Investors allegedly lost $740,000 investing through a local religious organization.

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Renovations will bring changes to George Preston Rec Centre

New facilities and upgraded plumbing are among the projects underway.

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

Abbotsford man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Most Read