11/10/18
Brice Bunner
Technology

This use of Virtual Reality will give you chills both ways

    

Image ©: D&AD

I saw a link to this video on LinkedIn the other day and I spent the next few minutes awash in thought. Here’s what I came up with:

Bob says technology has to matter to be valuable

Sage’s CEO, Bob Houghton, often tells me that technological moon-shot concepts like IoT microwaves and AR flak jackets are interesting, but until they do something that meets a specific problem, they won’t really take off. This is a sound idea, for sure, and it helps keep us grounded as technology accelerates toward the infinite at pixel speed. So, when I saw this way of placating toddlers as they are being vaccinated, it struck a chord. We’ve arrived!

Technology is so cool!Image ©: BBC

The next place my mind went (OK, I lied. It was the first…) was a place I often reside: complete awe of technology.

These things we can do—and how we relate to the technology that we’ve been able to create out of minerals, code, and those pixels I was talking about just a second ago—are just so amazing. The fact that children can not only overlook the physical shock of getting a vaccination, but that they are transformed into feeling like a hero because of it, is truly otherworldly.

But then my mind went to that other place I often visit…

Where does this ride end?

Maybe it’s because of the other article I read a few days prior to this video, about mice getting electrodes inserted in their heads so they could “download” Matrix-style learning, but a sudden wave of fear hit me. The fact that kids can be convinced of something so core to their self-worth (feeling like a hero is some powerful mojo) simply because of an immersive video-game interface got me thinking that it could go the other way just as easily.

And that’s the knife-edge we walk with technology. On one hand, I love technology—what it stands for, how it unlocks human potential, and the progress we’ve made through exploring technology. But, on the other hand, it’s leaving a massive stain across the planet—and within our communities. Conflict minerals, e-waste exportation, and cyber attacks are just the beginning to the evils of technology.

Seeking a Sage balance  

Do we toss the baby with this bathwater? Is this evil so vile that we should forsake progress and return to pre-industrial thinking?

Bob had some insight here, too. He actually knew Doug Thompson while he was alive, and as much as he respected his ideology, Bob sees the Luddite response to technology as a losing proposition. He said, “We can’t avoid progress, but we should seek to use the technology faithfully to our best principles.”

And that’s what I see Sage do every day. They address the very issues of technology’s stain head on. And the poignant—or, perhaps, ironic—part is that they do it with technology.

Sage uses data-erasure software and strict security protocols to eliminate data-security concerns; they reuse and refurbishing devices to keep them from the landfill; and when they have to, they recycle responsibly to offer manufacturers sustainably harvested minerals in place of mining in war-torn locations. Oh, and they even donate devices to organizations and schools in need, thereby chipping away at the social inequity that is plaguing our country.

Maybe that’s why I like Sage so much. They help me grapple with this schizophrenic relationship I have with technology by giving me tangible ways to sway the needle to the “good” side of technology for our community. And, like that VR game for kids, working with Sage gives me some of that heroic mojo.

 

#VirtualReality #ITAD #VR

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