I recently came across a LinkedIn blogpost by Tim Rogers entitled, Who should we insist wear Health Tech? In it, he advocates the use of various wearable technologies as ways of improving individuals’ health, and then speculates about the potential benefits that these could bring to wider society. On the face of it, it all sounds reasonable and straightforward.
However, I find the use of the verb "insist" in the post’s title revealing. As often seems to be the case, there is also a "we" doing the insisting of some unnamed others. So power and politics are very much in play here (as they always will be, of course) even though these underlying dynamics of human interaction will rarely if ever be acknowledged when the use of such technologies is advocated. The same could be said about the morality of the whys, whats, and hows of their deployment. In a similar vein, the word “opportunity” usually features prominently – as it does here. But one person’s opportunity is another person’s threat, as they (almost) say.
What concerns me most is that proponents seem to take it for granted that all such developments are unquestionably good - invented by 'good' people, with the intention of doing 'good' things, for the 'good' of other individuals, and thereby enhancing the common 'good'. The real-world dynamics of human interaction are conveniently ignored, in favour of a utopian view in which there is universal wellbeing, co-operation and harmony. A similar pattern can be found in relation to a lot of the stuff that is advocated as a way of ‘dealing with’ complexity.