Twelve Freedoms Granted by Modern Technology

Mike Togle
June 11, 2018

June is the month when the Philippines celebrates its Independence Day and the freedom to act as a nation of its own. This made us think about how we humans have always turned to our ability to make our work easier, extend the capabilities of our bodies, or make our environment better through the use of technology.

From the first crude farming implements to the most sophisticated artificial intelligence construct, we have turned to the products of our mind and hands to help us master our world.

In honor of this month of our Independence, we look at the 12 ways in which technology has given us freedom, whether from something that once held us back, to allowing us to reach farther or do more.

Freedom from Tedious, Repetitive Labor

When the First Industrial Revolution began, it was about automating work to the point of mass production of things. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, machines – both real and virtual – are changing the face of labor once again.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) now allow us to give the boring and tedious repetitive labor to machines. This in turn gives us humans more time and chances to engage in higher-value and -impact activities.

Freedom to Make Better Decisions

Human decision-making has depended on everything from searching for “signs” in the stars or the entrails of chickens, to asking the opinions of a group, and all the way to relying on just plain “gut feel.”

The advent of Data Science and Analytics changed all this by letting us base our decision-making on numbers. No more do we have to rely on simple “gut feel,” instead depending on the patterns our data show to make our decisions.

In the workplace, project management systems help ensure that managers are given accurate information about their project when they need it. A system like Centerpoint, where the entire process of the project is seen by all, makes sure that stakeholders can easily see where the work is at the moment and what needs to be done to push it forward.

Freedom from Wasting Time

Modern humans understand the importance of not wasting one’s time. This is why a good deal of apps are designed (or being designed) to reduce the time needed to complete certain actions and transactions.

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From something as simple as looking for parking space to something as important as finding a hospital accredited by your healthcard in a medical emergency, we can now find what we’re looking for with but the touch of a button.

Freedom from Ignorance

The internet allows us to access information on demand. The sum total of human knowledge is at our fingertips, as well as access to some of the best minds through social media.

“Google it” is a common statement today, often heard after someone asks a question and no one knows the answer. This illustrates how easy it is to get knowledge these days: after all, the combined knowledge of mankind is now available to anyone with a few keystrokes in a Search Engine.

Social Media is another source of information, allowing us to tap minds who might know more or better within our social networks. Many specialists use Twitter, for example, and ordinary people can ask them there anytime. Quora is a website and online community that’s made for the asking and answering of questions.

Freedom from Being Out of Reach

“Long Distance Relationships don’t work” is no longer as applicable as before. Communication is the most broken aspect of relationships when people are far from one another, but we are free of that concern thanks to messaging and video conferencing apps.

More than any time in human history, we are all connected with each other through our gadgets and the Internet. Social media links people like never before, allowing someone to easily expand their circles. Meanwhile, mobile devices ensure that people could not only adjust meetup locations (and even times) on the fly but also monitor the progress of the people they have to meet with.

Freedom to Work Anywhere We Want

Today’s digital landscape frees workers from the hassles of commute or the stifling walls of office cubicles. Working from home, or telecommuting, is a common thing with many companies today, as the Internet, increasingly powerful but light laptops, and capable smartphones allow people to do their work wherever they may be. According to 2016 data from the United States gathered by Global Workplace Analytics, there has been a growth of 103% in regular work-at-home, non-self-employed workers since 2005. A total of 3.7 million employees also work from their homes at least half the time.

Freedom Through Telecommuting from a mother's perspective

Some companies and organizations are also exploring office designs where staff can work anywhere they wish, called “flexible design” and co-working spaces that allow for different knowledge workers to work together under a single roof even if they’re not even officemates.

Freedom from Disability

Prosthetics to help deal with disabilities have been in use since ancient times. But modern cybernetics and prosthetics allow not only the restoration of lost capability but also give the disabled the chance to do amazing things like run faster (“blade” prosthetics), even against some of the fastest “normal” humans, like in the case of Oscar Pistorius, the so-called “Blade Runner.” Some advanced research is looking to allowing direct mental control of machines to help even those beyond the assistance of our most advanced artificial limbs.

Freedom to Mitigate Risks

Reducing risks has always been a common concern. We as a race have tried various methods ranging from the reasonable to the fantastic, all in the name of making sure we and the things we value are safe.

Using data and advanced algorithms, technological advances give us reliable methods for risk-assessment. An example of this is Pointwest’s Arko, a mobile app originally made for DOST’s Project NOAH that shows historical flood data and storm tracks, giving both ordinary citizens and civil planners alike the ability to assess if a location is prone to disastrous flooding.

Freedom to Transact Anywhere

Back then, you needed to go to a business establishment to do anything: buy, sell, or pay bills. Today, almost every transaction can be done either from the comfort of your desk or even on-the-go with your smartphone. Several banks both have browser-based banking systems as well as mobile banking versions of them, while e-commerce giants Amazon and Alibaba post record sales without even having a physical store.

There are many factors driving the shift to online for transactions and purchases. The biggest come-on – apparently for all ages, as noted in a KPMG study – had something to do with convenience, like people being able to shop anytime, anywhere. A freer trade regime for the globalized economy also allows people to shop online for products not easily available in their locale, regardless of the extra expense that may entail.

Freedom from Bad Experiences

It’s in the service industry that technology has made some of the biggest impacts. Back then, you were stuck with taxis for transport (depending on your city, that can be quite the bother) and hotels for lodging. With the advent of Uber and AirBNB and similar service providers, all powered by digital platforms, we don’t have to bear with stuffy taxicabs driven by gruff drivers or drab hotel rooms charging exorbitant fees.

Bad service is also now easier to call out because of technology. This mainly involves online reviews and ratings, which are often aggregated by third parties. TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Kayak dominate the travel industry, while Zomato is niched in the restaurant business. Elsewhere in the online jungle, customers can air their gripe or delight in blogs and on social media. These have a large effect because, in the information economy, the opinions of other customers who have tried the service or product matter more.

Freedom from Traditional Learning Modes

Back then, the only way to really learn is to work under someone (like an apprentice) or sit in a classroom setting. Although much learning still more or less falls under those two general terms, technology has allowed for flexibility in learning beyond being physically present and doing it in front of your master or teacher. Online courses like those offered by Coursera and Youtube videos allow people to learn what they want when they want it.

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For enterprises that want to offer learning content for their workforce, there are online learning solutions that can be utilized. One such option is Mento, which recently partnered with CHEERS Online to power its e-learning modules for Emergency Medical Trainings. Making knowledge sessions available through digital platforms like Mento allow for learning on-demand, which gives people the freedom to learn at their optimal and preferred schedules.

Freedom to Make New Business Models Work

There are many businesses today that would not have been possible if not for the spread of new technologies among the general public. As a Techcrunch article so clearly illustrated, the world’s largest taxi company owns no actual vehicles, and the most popular media platform makes no content. Thousands more startups rise and fall each day, looking for that formula for success, and each and every single one is using modern technology to do business in a way never done before.

Freedom through Technology is a Privilege

Even with much advancement in technology, there are still a good number of people that are not free from chains of traditional processes and methods. Being updated of what technologies are available is a start, and availing of the freedoms that such advancements bring is a privilege that people need to grab.

As of this writing, there may even more newer technologies evolving at various corners of the world.

But it will always be up to people to pick and choose, like a grocery, which new technologies are necessary for them to improve their daily lives; their daily chores, and improve their life experiences.

Which technologies have you been taking advantage of lately? Grab a chance to converse with us through the comments below.


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Founded in 2003 by pioneers of the Philippine Global Sourcing industry, Pointwest creates value for its list of satisfied clients — including top Fortune 100 and local companies — with world-class digital services backed by international-standards methodologies and innovative practices.