In this article, Don Norman (famous for his seminal work The Design of Everyday Things) takes to task our technology-centric view of the world:
We need to switch from a technology-centric view of the world to a people-centric one. We should start with people’s abilities and create technology that enhances people’s capabilities: Why are we doing it backwards?
Instead of focusing on what we as humans require, we start with what technology is able to provide. Norman argues that it is us serving technology rather than the other way around:
Just think about your life today, obeying the dictates of technology–waking up to alarm clocks (even if disguised as music or news); spending hours every day fixing, patching, rebooting, inventing work-arounds; answering the constant barrage of emails, tweets, text messages, and instant this and that; being fearful of falling for some new scam or phishing attack; constantly upgrading everything; and having to remember an unwieldly number of passwords and personal inane questions for security, such as the name of your least-liked friend in fourth grade. We are serving the wrong masters.
I particularly like his example of car accidents. We’re fed the line that autonomous vehicles will dramatically cut the number of accidents on our road, but is that right?
Over 90% of industrial and automobile accidents are blamed on human error with distraction listed as a major cause. Can this be true? Look, if 5% of accidents were caused by human error, I would believe it. But when it is 90%, there must be some other reason, namely, that people are asked to do tasks that people should not be doing. Tasks that violate fundamental human abilities.
Consider the words we use to describe the result: human error, distraction, lack of attention, sloppiness–all negative terms, all implying the inferiority of people. Distraction, in particular, is the byword of the day–responsible for everything from poor interpersonal relationships to car accidents. But what does the term really mean?
It’s a good article, particularly at a time when we’re thinking about robots and artificial intelligence replacing humans in the jobs market. It certainly made me think about my technology choices.
Source: Fast Company
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