Beware The Reality Distortion Field

Continuing on the theme of technology hype, a tech columnist for the Post reminds us of the over-the-top hoopla that surrounded the rollout of 5G a few years ago.

You might have a 5G phone now. I do. Did it make a significant impact in my technology experience? Nope.

5G might be a bigger tangible benefit to you down the line. It was also an inevitable and necessary advance — albeit an incremental one. And that’s okay.

What wasn’t okay was the corporate 5G hype that treated us like goobers who fall for any promise of new and awesome tech.

One lesson is that we can’t trust companies to be honest about how today’s buzzy technologies, including artificial intelligence, driverless cars and the metaverse, will or won’t change our lives.

She goes on to point out that 5G, like all new technologies, came with some glitches and has improved over time. But it was never life changing for the vast majority of people. Not even “game changing”.

However, as I recall, it wasn’t just companies hyping 5G. There were plenty of politicians and pundits who declared that a fast deployment of that technology should be nothing less than a national security priority. Or that failure to do so would result in economic catastrophe.

We don’t hear stuff like that much any more. At least not about 5G.

In the past year we have been flooded with a lot of the same kind of overhype, both positive and negative, surrounding the use of AI. And specifically dealing with the public release of ChatGPT. At the very least, this technology was going to destroy American education and make our kids stupid.

So, is that happening? And how much of an impact will this technology have on the life of the average person?

The correct answers are, we don’t know. Likely it’s also “probably not”.

The bottom line to all this is that everyone (who doesn’t work in marketing) should approach new technologies with a healthy dose of skepticism. First asking the question “why do we need this?”. And quickly following up with “what are the potential downsides?” to this product.

Unfortunately, we won’t get much help from most media outlets since covering the shiny new stuff, or the potential controversy emanating from the shiny new stuff, grabs more attention. And is much easier than doing any real investigation and analysis.

Keep all this in mind if you choose to enter Apple’s “reality distortion field” (aka overhype) surrounding the VR headset they announced last week.

The graphic is the one used in the Post article.

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