Updated: Aug 19
Steve Jobs a visionary in popular culture, a ruthless man in reality
Over the past four decades, the digital world and the digital economy have taken over our lives and have sold us false promises of a utopia, a perfect future, a grand vision of tomorrow. A vision that is more of a pipe dream and a distraction that divorces us from reality.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to re-examine our relationship with technology and science, taking into consideration the fact that the world has no serious plan of action to effectively remedy us of this virus.
Our Ignorance of Reality
The digital economy has accelerated globalization thanks to the emergence of technology conglomerates such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Samsung, HP, IBM, Softbank and many others who all play an integral role in the global digital ecosystem. The emergence of such companies has coincided with the rapid economic development of Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Silicon Valley and China as manufacturing hubs for digital devices, specialist services and new technology applications.
Such economic activity has led to the creation of large new megacities such as Shenzhen, Seoul, Taipei and many others that have helped further wealth creation for those inside and outside the technology industry. Founders of such technology-driven enterprises are now elevated onto a public media platform that places them on par with political and religious leaders. Individuals such as Jack Ma, Bill Gates and Masayoshi Son opinions are taken more seriously than many Presidents and Prime Ministers.
However, this world of technology, industry and the hubris of digital media is a distraction from First Principles and Reality. We have simply forgotten the fundamentals of human flourishing and what it means to be free.
Science, Wealth Creation and First Principles
Technology is the commercial application of science, for science is the understanding of nature. Wealth creation is dependent on the capacity for technology to provide dignified employment for a workforce both skilled and unskilled. Thus, the first principle of science is the objective understanding of nature. This understanding is missing in our capacity to instruct, teach and determine appropriate public policy relating the governance of technology in its various applications.
Technology-driven companies are geared towards monopolization, income inequality and automation, economic principles that favor the interests of capital rather than principles of inclusive economic growth. In order to move towards an inclusive model of economic mobility, a model that furthers equal opportunities for all, it is essential that a new generation of companies outside the technology industry work towards advancing solutions to real-world problems rather than engaging in market-driven economics.
In the years and decades to come, food production, climate change, scarce water and limited sanitation merit the adoption of new solutions that require regulatory changes and reforms to benefit hundreds of millions of families that do not have access to such basic necessities and for those in the developed world struggling with growing income inequalities. These new services are more essential than mobile applications, analytics and big data.
Natural Law and Science
In order to return to a culture where the dignity of work, inclusive and equal opportunities for all, is a reality. It is essential for those seeking to make a difference in the world to have knowledge of the natural law and the principle of subsidiarity. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a reflection that in our world today we have not learned from the bad lessons of the past and we have failed to understand the values and principles that ought to animate a culture where the dignity and sanctity of human life triumphs over the passions of lust, greed, ignorance and power.
The ongoing crisis is an opportunity for the Catholic Church and for practicing Catholics to engage with the world about the fundamental truths about human existence at a time when people are searching for the truth in a spiritual void. Encyclicals and Church documents such as Rerun Novarum, Dignitatis Personae, Gaudium et Spes and writings by the Desert Fathers can be instrumental in guiding us to become better versions of ourselves. Such things nourish the soul and cultivate a sense of purpose and virtue in this culture of death.
The technology industry has given the world an abundance of pleasures and services that have benefited us all for the better. But the real challenges we face such as the energy crisis, the healthcare crisis, poor air, lack of drinking water and food insecurity are challenges that merit a focus away from technology into real-world solutions. Only with the tools of charity, natural law, virtue and a depth of understanding of reality can help get us out of this crisis and create a better world of tomorrow.