Conscious tech needs conscience
here and now is the perfect place to start
The European Commission recognizes network connectivity as the foundation of the digital landscape and announced that 20% of NextGenerationEU, the EU’s recovery package, should be in invested in digital. This coincides with several related public and private initiatives. On the eve of these major public and private investments into so-called ‘digital twins’ and the further integration of artificial intelligence, it seems high time for some sort of conscience for ‘conscious technologies’. It also seems high time to clarify the meaning and implication of ‘conscious tech’.
Aware and responsive
The word conscious in conscious tech indicates ‘aware and responsive.’
Contrary to common misinterpretation, in this context, the word conscious does not imply any sort of moral standard.
Conscious tech today refers to human beings using technologies to enhance their bodies, minds and habitat. Think: phones, wearables, implants, buildings, cars, traffic lights and CCTV.
Conscious tech applications are set up to notice and register our presence and behavior, they gather and organize data – for us and about us – and interact with us and with other conscious devices and systems.
At present conscious tech touches every single industry, home and place of work.
Automated, instant and lasting consequence
Connectivity, artificial intelligence and data, which are at the very core of conscious tech, are intrinsically linked.
Because of connectivity and artificial intelligence, data is no longer solely the bottom of a traditional ‘data-information-knowledge-insight’-pyramid. Data is increasingly a trigger of automated, instant and lasting consequence.
This type of consequence calls for increased effort in systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong, also known as ethics, related to conscious tech.
It also calls for the subsequent translation and actual integration of these concepts in new and existing technologies and applications.
Speed and prosperity
Conscious tech and data can be seen in the perspective of the crossing of three global trends all heavily linked to our habitat: urbanization, digitalization and connectivity.
Each of these trends has a technological side as well as a social one. The balance between the two sides determines the speed and direction of the trend.
At the beginning of the industrial revolution, while technological inventions reshaped the production and transportation of goods, people stood up for improvement of their physical working and living conditions and for fair distribution of the newly created wealth. Companies, cities, and governments, who were able to embrace this, prospered.
Today, we see a popular uprising for emancipation, autonomy and influence related to data. Particularly because this data is increasingly a trigger of automated and instant consequence.
Only if we are able to acknowledge and embrace this, the rise of conscious tech (aka aware and responsive technologies relying on connectivity, data and artificial intelligence), will bring us speed and prosperity.
Like an actual human conscience, our conscious tech conscience doesn’t come to life fully developed. It needs to grow and will only do so when it is tried and tested. We need to start rather sooner, than later.
Rather than waiting for an all-encompassing one-time right, now is the time to start making incremental, consistent steps to merge opinions, beliefs and innovations into favorable and feasible concepts of right and wrong.
This one is on us as people.
Figuring out, sharing, testing and implementing our concepts of right and wrong related to data and conscious tech, are collaborative efforts.
Core principles are autonomy and traceable ownership of data as well as transparency and traceability of technologies. These concepts seem to be universally regarded as ‘good’. But to some, whose business model or political system is based on the opposite, they are regarded as ‘bad’.
The first and fundamental question we need to answer is: who gets to decide what is good or bad?
These decisions concern us all. No matter how strong, how rich or how omnipresent a player may be, nor even how good their intentions, this should never be up to one single player, nor a few.
The adoption and integration of concepts of right and wrong in the engineering, production and use of conscious technologies depend on the goodwill of the suppliers, on government regulation, on the (free) purchasing power of organizations and on the (free) purchasing and voting power of individuals.
This makes our conscious tech conscience a joint responsibility. This one is on us as people. It is up to us to make it work. Together.
Only if businesses, governments and individuals are able to acknowledge and embrace their codependence and join forces, the rise of conscious tech will make our system more sustainable.
From a holistic point of view, the resilience and adaptability of a system heavily depends on its components and vice versa.
In comparison to a natural ecosystem, in a socio-economic ecosystem culture is oxygen, money is water and education is fertilizer.
A favorable ecosystem for sustainable economic, ecological and social vitality, like a natural ecosystem, needs both solidity and diversity. It needs a strong foundation as well as constant regeneration.
Europe holds all the basic elements for such a vital ecosystem. Furthermore, acknowledging and embracing diversity mark the highs and lows of Europe’s past and present and will mark her future.
Within Europe, Eindhoven is uniquely placed to be the frontrunner of sustainable future and balanced innovation by imagining, designing, manufacturing and supplying the building blocks for its foundation.
The story of this region is precisely one of balance, collaboration, meeting popular demand and successive speed and prosperity.
The technological innovation of the past 100 years in the Eindhoven region, ignited by Philips, can be summarized as light – lighter – lightest.
Light being the electric light.
Lighter being automotive, health technologies and consumer electronics to make curing and caring lighter and people’s lives better.
Lightest being the speed of light in semiconductors and photonics, the foundation of today’s connectivity.
Lightest & Brightest
Entrepreneurs and authorities in this region understand the importance of social responsibility in order to attract and keep the best employees and partners.
Hence, in addition to light – lighter – lightest, innovation has also been about being bright and brighter.
Bright being affordable access and proximity for all to adequate housing, safety and healthcare.
Brighter being affordable access and proximity for all to quality education, leisure and cultural activities.
This, multiplied by the regional culture of purposeful collaboration and its international scope, presents a unique opportunity for greater global impact by being not only lightest but also brightest.
Brightest being the spark and source of energy for our conscious tech conscience. This will allow us and future generations to build resilient and sustainable cities and industries and to create human-centered habitats that support and enhance our health and well-being.
That is why at LUMO Labs we use our 20mio euro seed capital fund to create opportunities for next-generation software and smart hardware startups who provide infrastructures, platforms and applications (B2C, B2B and B2G) for Sustainable Cities & Communities, Good Health & Well-being and Quality Education.
That is why we actively advocate autonomy and traceable ownership of data for people and transparency and traceability of technologies.
That is why we are based in Eindhoven (with a strategic outpost in Los Angeles, CA to keep our perspective and connections open).
That is why we reach out and connect with local and global public and private partners.
That is why we our approach is both systemic and human-centered.
That is why we contribute to peer groups, think tanks and education and why we promote diversity and inclusion.
It is why we support contemporary art, architecture, philosophy and sports.
And, it is why we ask all who believe that conscious tech needs a conscience, to share how they contribute and make this conscience a collaborative effort.
#conscioustechneedsconscience #ctnconscience #goodthingsarecoming
By Andy Lürling
Founding Partner LUMO Labs