Calm Technology, Mindfulness, and the Future of Business
I had to stop wearing my Apple Watch recently. The damn thing wouldn’t shut up and I know I could update the settings to fix that, but the last thing I needed to maintain is another Apple product. As the resident technologist in the Carver household, I’m responsible for the Apple TV, the wifi, the home automation stack, and my own digital life across computers, tablets, and phone. Something had to go and it ended up being the watch. This curation of our digital lives is becoming more and more in focus as products increase their areas of influence.
Even in starting Pilgrim Blue I’ve noticed how much more complicated my digital life can get. Now in addition to my personal pieces, I have to add the business parts as well. Now I have 2 LinkedIn accounts, 2 Instagram accounts, 2 Facebook, and all the analytics, advertising, and content curation to go along with it. Amid all this demand for my attention a counteracting force has become needed to keep myself focused on what’s important.
When I moved to Austin my wife and I sought to reduce the complexity of our lives and spend more time focusing on the things that matter. Of course defining those “things that matter” can have a broad definition in ones personal experience, but as a business it’s more simple. Just like the curation of my personal digital life, I have to curate my business’s digital life. I need to constantly separate the wheat from the chaff and make it a priority to not let channels that aren’t producing results grow beyond their value.
Calm Technology and the Future of Business
Professor Genevieve Bell founded Intel’s first User Experience Group and is best known for her work at the intersection of cultural practice and technological development. In her book Divining a Digital Future she talks about the mess created by technological advancement in an age of ubiquitous computing.
Alongside the myth, there is the mess—the practical reality of ubicomp day to day. We do not use the term “mess” pejoratively; we rather like the mess (as anyone would be able to see who glanced at the space where we sit writing these words). When we talk of the mess, we want to suggest that the practice of any technology in the world is never quite as simple, straightforward, or idealized as it is imagined to be. For any of the infra- structures of daily life—the electricity system, the water system, telephony, digital networking, or the rest—the mess is never far away. Lift the cover, peer behind the panels, or look underneath the floor, and you will find a maze of cables, connectors, and infrastructural components, clips, clamps, and duct tape. Push further, and you will also encounter the regulatory authorities who authorize interventions and certify qualified individuals, committees that resolve conflicting demands in the process of setting standards, governments that set policy, bureaucrats who implement it, marketers who shape our views of the role of the infrastructure in our lives, and more. Mess is always nearby.
This idea of messiness gets particularly exacerbated when considering the long term effect of AI and machine learning. As stated in the above video, AI looks to take over at least 40% of jobs in the next 5 years and while that is a scary idea at face value, it’s especially frightening when considering the current state of technology in business. How do we validate action taken on our behalf by a computer? What happens when AI decision making becomes industry standard for your business. It’s easy for me to take off an Apple Watch, but just imagine the nightmare of integrating your current analytics data into an AI ad platform and being able to 100% trust the results. I find it hard to imagine being able to without a thorough grooming of the data before hand.
Ubiquitous Computing will Disrupt Your Business
It’s not a matter of if but when. I want to be extra clear about this: How will you control sales if the purchase decisions are made by artificial intelligence?
This question is guaranteed to impact your business in the coming years. Researchers are already investigating how Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) will effect spirituality and how ubiquitous computing is able to provide spiritual experiences and feelings of awe, wonder, and mindfulness. To quote Elizabeth Buie’s abstract on Human Factors in Computing Systems:
HCI research has seen a growing emphasis on holistic approaches and subjective experience, especially in the last decade.
This growing emphasis on holistic approach and subjective experience reenforce the finding from Intel’s study on the Future of Innovation. The three finds that run through the survey:
Concerns over data & privacy.
Ambivalence towards the nature of connections online.
Optimism about what could come.
With these factors in mind I want to challenge you to answer the following questions:
Is your business responsible with user’s data?
Does your business converting it’s digital capital into real world growth?
Are your customers excited about how your business integrates with future technology?
If you answered no to any of these you might be the business that is getting disrupted and not the one doing the disruption. If your business isn’t a Fortune 500 company and you answered no, then the time to act was yesterday, but it’s not too late. We want to help you navigate this age of ubiquitous computing and get ahead of the competition.