Are you a techno-optimist or pessimist?
Some folks think that new technology is leading us towards a bright, shining future. They look at the new smartphone apps and medical sensors and see that new technology allows us to live longer, more productive lives. Others look at manufacturing robots and factory farms and just see displaced workers and environmental degradation. Which is it?
It’s unquestionably true that for the past 250 years technology has improved our lives. People are wealthier and healthier and live longer; about a billion people now live better than medieval kings and queens used to. And it’s not just material well-being: Broadwood’s 1780 piano was a huge improvement on the original, but was only made possible by the industrial revolution.
But progress has its price. Rising wealth means rising inequality; email correspondence allows for NSA surveillance. Technology solves problems, but typically creates new issues in the process. The history of technology can be seen as a sequence of unintended consequences.
Technology isn’t a savior, but it’s not a scapegoat, either. It just is.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer