Broken Innovation

Recently the iPhone X was released and Apple fans went scurrying to throw their money at Apple CEO Tim Cook.  Not to be outdone, a rival smartphone company announced it would soon be rolling out a bendable phone.  It was at that moment, I knew . . .  Wait, a bendable phone?  What, why? Wait, an iPhone with no real significant features? How?  Hashtag–first world problems.  (I hate the term third world.  If you notice, I usually say “developing economies,” or emerging economies or some other term that more accurately describes the hundreds of economies all over the world that are growing and gaining traction in the world market.

But this is where it gets really annoying.  We’ve got companies out here making useless “innovations,” that serve no real purpose beyond the function of the bearded lady at the carnival.   A brief trip through Silicon Valley, the Apple Store or the Google Play Store and you’ll see an abundance of ridiculous apps waiting to eat your data and siphon your personal information.  The trouble is that there are REAL problems in the world which being ignored by app designers, engineers, and scientists.  With all of the natural disasters, famine, drought, energy shortages and flooding, you’d think there would be a focus on real innovation.

But these days we just have more of the same: faux innovation among the self-congratulatory, creating more hubris conferences about technologies that are leaving the vast majority of the world and its problems untouched.  What is more, this same thinking is infecting many IT and engineering quadrants in the developing world.  It is puzzling to see designers who hail from small villages where women still must carry water, making apps that tell you how many times you blinked in a 24-hour period. WTH?  A famous pop group once sang, “Where is the Love?” I’d like to echo a similar yet slightly different sentiment, “Where is the innovation?”   Why aren’t we solving the world’s real problems rather than creating pointless technology and having ridiculous conversations about innovation every next-tech conference?  Maybe, just maybe, wearable tech with Spider-man spinnerets is not the future; maybe we could change the world–like, all if it. . . not just the world of coffee-drinking hipsters in a trendy Whole Paycheck block in Manhattan.

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