Every once in a while, we like to take a step back from what we do and marvel at the amazing progress we, as a society, have made through technology. To think that 20 years ago, the idea of iWatches, internet, and the IoT was far-fetched science fiction.
While it’s true that with this technological advancement comes significant ramifications like e-waste and cyber-security threats, there are plenty of really great things that come from the technology, as well. And that’s the irony: technology is both the producer and the solution to problems that threaten our planet.
Irony 1: Electronically addressing the climate change conundrum
It can be argued that the climate change issues we’ve recently become aware of have been perpetrated by technology. The unsustainable creation of electronic devices, the need to power these devices with an antiquated electrical infrastructure, and the greed of businesses to cut costs where their e-waste was concerned have played their part in warming the planet.
But this irony surfaces and now, largely through the use of IoT devices, technology is being employed to track, monitor, and adjust contributors to climate change. This access to things like real-time observation of logging companies, or automatic adjustment of temperature controls in larger buildings is what the Internet of Things was designed for.
But the irony goes deeper when IoT devices are helping us track electronics at the end of their lifecycle. Like the GPS trackers the Basel Action Network attached to “recycled” IT assets, the discovery of where our devices wind up has led to rating systems like the e-Steward certification and greater waste transparency.
Irony 2: Technology tapped to achieve sustainability
Another irony we’ve seen with technology is businesses developing new ways to visualize sustainable solutions. From augmented A.I. to Virtual Reality (VR), or through IoT devices and energy storage, there are devices that can now put us in the driver’s seat toward sustainability like never before.
Tapping technology to answer problems plaguing
the planet is not only smart—it’s vital.
And even employing software like the Sage Bluebook to accurately evaluate the value of surplus electronics has been a way for hundreds of businesses to be more sustainable with their own technology. Leveraging technology to this end is natural, given the computing potential of our devices.
Irony 3: IT for those in need bridges the digital divide
The final way we see irony in our technology is with the digital divide. The digital divide is the large portion of the American population that is without access to technology. Whether due to economic reasons, catastrophic events, or social influences, there are hundreds of thousands of people who don’t own electronic devices.
Not having technology means these people have a harder time finding a job, taking classes, or even getting healthcare in much of the country. So, technology is becoming increasingly critical to survival. So, what’s the answer to this gap? Technology, of course!
The Digital Equity Program, which will officially launch in the new year, is a way for communities in the digital divide to gain access to gently-used devices. Our GoodTogether program—another technological development—also connects businesses to donate their surplus IT assets to help bridge this divide.
Technology is at once an answer to many of our problems and the cause of nearly as many. This irony is worth embracing and exploiting toward sustainable ends. We are overjoyed to see solutions borne from these problem-producing products and hope you see the value of irony here, too.
So, what DO you think? Leave a comment below. Do you use technology to answer problems brought on by technology? Or perhaps you see additional ways we can leverage technology to solve these dilemmas. Did we miss another ironic twist to these amazing devices we spend so much time with?