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D14 Microsoft Tech

Star Trek teaches you that technology is supposed to be a force of good, but it can feel like a prison, says Microsoft’s Dave Coplin


By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

May 30, 2014 | 2 min read

Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, is a bastard, Dave Coplin, chief envisioning officer at Microsoft UK, jokingly stated at a digital conference today.

Speaking at the D14 in Glasgow, Coplin said that the invention of the telephone means that while we are able to connect to people all over the world, we are no longer connected to the people in the same room as us.

To make his point, he asked how many people talk to the person sitting beside them at work – and how many choose to email them instead.

Coplin – who spoke to The Drum recently about his new book and the importance of curbing bad technology habits– took the opportunity to discuss how the world has changed over the past 20 years from technology.

“Star Trek teaches you that technology is supposed to be a force of good. It’s supposed to be the thing that enables human beings to achieve more than they could do on their own – that’s why I decided upon a career in digital and a career in technology,” he revealed.

“The problem is 20 years in and I don’t see this great release, I see a prison. Technology shapes how we think, it shapes how we work, it controls what we do.

“We spend our time in a world of too much information…caused by the beautiful devices we carry with us all the time. What happens is we become increasingly frustrated – and yet we’re walking around with more technology.”

There may not be a reason to learn new languages any more, given the state of translation software – coming two days after Microsoft itself launched a system that will translate languages in ‘near-real time’ for Skype.

Despite believing that we have become slaves to technology, Coplin admits that, if we take time out to be mindful of our surroundings, it is not all bad.

“My future is not this dystopian future of the machines taking over. This isn’t the Terminator and the internet isn’t Skynet.”

D14 Microsoft Tech

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