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Will new technologies allow the blind to see* and the lame to walk**? Where will we experience “gifts” – i.e. high output after low input? Will we raise the dead – even if it is only their digital spirit?

It seems certain that the young dreams of today’s generation of billionaires will be replaced by new images of progress.

We are therefore not talking about a flight to Mars. The next images of progress do not come from Star Trek, but from the New Testament.

Progress pictures 2024


Implants are no longer really foreign to us. Dental implants made of quartz, ivory and wood existed thousands of years ago, hearing aids have been implanted for decades and cochlear implants, which interact directly with the brain stem, are already in use. Why do we still feel that breaking the human-machine barrier is too far-fetched?

Why do we find it so difficult to predict which technological developments will be relevant to our professional environment? The discussion about new trends is omnipresent – yet we are not making any progress. Are we not smart enough, are we too far away from Palo Alto, are we too old? Why is that?

Enthusiasm and disappointment

We tend to overestimate the short-term impact of a technology and underestimate its long-term influence. We get excited, then get disappointed and lose sight of it. Looking back, we have to admit to ourselves: Whatever the development, we were informed, we were forewarned, but a lack of immediate usability or technical sophistication caused our interest to wane.

From normality to the new normal

The path from normality to the new normal is accompanied in equal measure by curiosity and hope, as well as resistance and rejection.

Who doesn’t know this or something similar? One of the members of the group talks about a new technology with naïve enthusiasm, while the experienced colleague, who is accepted by the community as an opinion leader, immediately counters with “I’ve seen it before and it’s bored me for years, there’s nothing that’s relevant to us”.

The element of surprise had already been used up for the opinion leader. As a community, however, we must be careful not to expect too little that is new and to regard possible developments as too far-fetched.

Dealing with uncertainty

Technological change is developing exponentially.

In the case of software, we expected too much too soon in the years 1995 to 2000; in the meantime, many of the seemingly stupid ideas of 2000 have become a normal part of everyday life.

The smartphone has taken us by surprise once again. We were able to catch up in the area of mobile Internet use, and now we never want to be taken by surprise again. We all need to change the way we deal with uncertainty.

Recognizing disruptive software-based innovations

Most of the effects of software come to us in disguise.

Genomics and nanotechnology, for example, seem to be based on biology and materials science – at second glance, you realize that the new developments and possibilities were opened up by software.

Financial innovations that enable cheaper insurance and loans are software innovations in disguise.

The thermostat in Google’s “Nest” does not save energy through new discoveries in thermodynamics, but through machine learning algorithms.

Consider the consequences of new infrastructure

The self-driving car is a topic of the future. No, we hear, that’s already a thing of the past – but it’s neither exciting nor relevant for us. That’s right, none of us build self-driving cars or program their software.

The highly specialized software for dialog with the sensors and for controlling the vehicles will not be developed by us in the distant future, so why should we bother with it?

Viewed in isolation, the individual self-driving car really has no connection to our professional environment. But if the self-driving car becomes a reality across the board, a magical new technosphere will emerge.

We have experienced the consequences of a new technosphere with the introduction of the iPhone – the time and society before seem unimaginably far away. The impact of the emerging technosphere of nationwide self-driving cars is almost unimaginable compared to smartphones – but it will happen and shape our professional environment. The private one anyway.

But now!

When a new colleague takes the floor at the next annual strategy meeting and talks about augmented reality, we will bite our tongues – even if we have heard it what feels like 15 times – and have classified it as irrelevant just as often.

The colleague is simply right. It will happen. And that’s why we write it on our whiteboard.

And right next to it we write …

Magic mirror, babel fish, invisibility cloak, replicator, Pinocchio nose and communism 2.0.***

New technologies are always relevant for us. Because we can also be relevant through them. Because we can make a difference by using new technologies. Nothing is more motivating than recognizing the meaning in our work. As soon as we realize that we can really change something for the better, no further measures are needed to promote creativity, effectiveness and motivation.

But now! When a new colleague takes the floor at the next annual strategy meeting and talks about augmented reality, we will bite our tongues - even if we have heard it what feels like 15 times - and have classified it as irrelevant just as often.

Norbert Kathriner
  • Magic mirror: An object from our everyday life has almost unlimited knowledge and can communicate with us about it.
  • Babelfish: We can communicate with people in any language.
  • Stealth: We decide for ourselves who we are visible to.
  • Replicator: Any product can be produced by a machine in the blink of an eye.
  • Pinocchio nose: Emotions become transparent – you can tell immediately whether someone is lying or what they are thinking.
  • Communism 2.0 – the everyday sharing of resources.
Elon Musk

Conclusion, or which horse has ridden me here…

In this article, I emphasize that technological change is exponential and stress the importance of learning from past patterns. We must not continue to fall into the trap of allowing initial enthusiasm for new technologies to quickly turn into disappointment and prematurely push them aside. Instead, we should recognize that real innovation takes time to develop its full potential. It is essential that we adapt our attitude and remain open to the long-term opportunities that arise from technological developments.