The presumption that technology has provided a higher standard of living is quite an audacious claim I will not let you get away with. Especially without specifying the axis along which you measure a higher standard of living and to whom.
Today, more than a billion people are without fresh drinking water, and more than 9 million kids die before the age of five. Even if we limit the purview of your interest to the birthplace of technology, we merely see a different kind of dysfunction.
We, Americans, now live in the second most obese country in the world, with 70% of Americans dependent on prescription drugs (the vast majority antidepressants) costing 17% of GDP, 69% of adults have a chronic disease, 25% have two, 15.6% of our kids live in extreme poverty, and 25% of kids attending public schools in the US are on the school food support program (for some kids the only meal they’ll have that day), with our average age declining since 2015. To name a few. Nothing technology has impacted positively or reversed. This is the underbelly of “excellence” we do not want you to see.
So, to suggest technology has played a pivotal role in improving the standard of living for humanity is a foregone conclusion by any relevant standard or purview. Now, one could surmise that access to more of the world’s information is a beautiful thing, but that all depends on the freedom by which that access is achieved, not unlike the validity of democracy predicated on the freedom instilled in said democracy. The proclamations of the excellence of democracy are as hollow as those of technology uncorrelated to real freedom. Freedom cannot be a monism for it to be deemed free.
Therefore, in the case of technology, you would have to explain to me how a totalitarian monism embedded in the algorithms of technology is good for the world, an answer Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook) still owes me. Any static monism for humanity, deployed by technology platforms today, is bad for a world that revolves around dynamic relativity. The value of our meaningful differences is crucial to human evolution, quite the opposite of the stifling groupthink promulgated by many infantile algorithms of technology.
So, technology in its current rat race for valuations over value is, in essence, no different than the advent and populism of the tobacco industry, providing a temporal high thirty years later responsible for the 3rd leading death of Americans. Technology, the way we deploy it today, is making people submit to groupthink and narrowing the diversity of thought needed to breed outliers capable of expanding the fringe of human ingenuity. It attempts to turn us into robots, and with AI in tow, robots into humans—a sure way to kill humanity.
Can we build better technology? Absolutely. We can and must build technology that adheres to nature’s operating system. Any conflict with nature will meet nature’s brutal sickle sooner. I laid out those principles in The State of Humanity.
We cannot blame technologists – I grew up as one – for taking the fallacies of our manmade systems for a glorious ride. But, if we care about the excellence of humanity and our longevity on earth, we best learn how to take ourselves on with a new and better operating-system for humanity instilled in technology. One by an evolving equilibrium with nature to which we humans are and always will be subjugated.