Imagine the first cars were just being invented in this era:
- The idea that 1.5-ton metal vehicles, traveling freely at speeds of up to 200 km/h might rely on manual driving would appear ridiculously unsafe.
- The idea that every single vehicle would emit over 100 g CO2/km along with other pollutants would be socially unacceptable due to health/environmental concerns.
- The idea that you would have to pay extra for features such as GPS or smartphone connectivity would be laughable – imagine paying 300 EUR for updated navigation maps.
Imagine the first phones were just being developed right now:
- Having to dial a dozen or more digits to reach who you want to speak to would be considered a horrible user experience and have no chance at implementation.
- To work around this massive fault by means of a “contact registry” that you have to compile and update by hand would never be considered “solving a problem” but poorly glossing over a massive design flaw.
Imagine the first pension system was just being designed today:
- The idea that 40 years or more of employment would not create enough value to comfortably carry anyone through their old age would be considered scandalous.
- Having a structurally failing system in place that at best struggles to provide for elder members and that only works if more and more new people join in to foot the bill would be considered an illegal pyramid scheme.
Imagine the internet was just designed in this age:
- The idea of non-standardized user data would be considered incredibly unpractical and a burden for users that profits internet service oligopols.
- Having to browse virtually the entire knowledge of the human race by manually experimenting with search strings to find what you’re looking for would be deemed impractical – instead of “search” the obvious course would be “find”.
- The fact that content availability and commodity should rely on the end user’s device would be unthinkable in an age of such rapid tech developments – not adopting a “mobile first” strategy (such as Google did years ago) would already fail the majority of internet users.
Imagine work was just about to become a thing tomorrow:
- The idea of imposing standardized office hours on a generation of “always on” creatives would never even come up.
- Establishing massively expensive and resource-consuming office buildings and demanding workers spend lots of time and money to commute there daily while widespread broadband is available almost everywhere would get you declared unfit for leadership.
- Refusal to design work in such a way that it becomes something people want to do (as opposed to having to do it for a paycheck) would mean a failure from the start.
- Having mature adults – people who bring children to the world and pay 6-digit credit property loans – seek others’ approval for going on a business trip or deciding on/buying office equipment would be an embarrassment for any management.
- Doing all of the above and demand that human beings spend the majority of their waking hours this way would get you fired and might be grounds for lawsuits.
- Actually believing anyone would perform at their best when forced to submit to these conditions – while every scientific analysis says otherwise – could warrant a psychological evaluation.
The good news is: We are working on all of the above – the future is coming, whether you care or not. Not everything about it is going to be great, just like not everything about the current state of affairs sucks. All in all, though, I’d say there’s good reason to be excited – and to start co-designing the future that you’d like to see.