Technology can do more than make life easier. It can make us all better people.

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At its most basic level, the purpose of technology is to make life easier. Despite the occasional frustrations we all experience, there is little doubt it does so.

But what is often overlooked is the impact it can have on our human values - from making us more open-minded and tolerant to increasing our understanding and empathy.

Rather than a utopian vision from an often embattled industry, this is the result of a major global survey by Lenovo which asked people from ten countries about the impact of technology.

Almost four in ten of respondents (38 percent) believe smart devices such as PCs, tablets, smartphones and VR are making people more open-minded and tolerant. Over a third (35 percent) believe technology is making us more understanding and empathetic, while almost as many stated that technology makes us more charitable.

When you take a moment to consider these findings, they begin to seem increasingly self-evident. The rise of social media and video sharing platforms allow people to connect with those from other countries and cultures, gaining an insight into their lives.

The increased prevalence of charitable giving platforms allow people to make donations online, as most recently seen with the incredible case of over $1.8 Million being raised for the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in NSW through charitable giving platform GoFundMe in response to the fire crisis.

We should not expect these trends to level out or decline. Respondents to the survey believe emerging technologies could have an even more significant impact on our values in the future. Indeed, two-thirds (66 percent) say that VR has the potential to help people become more emotionally connected with others across the globe.

While there were some well-rehearsed concerns around the impact of technology (for example, 43 percent believe that technology is making us less ‘patient’), optimism shone through.

To maximise the potential technology offers to better the human experience and our relationships with others, we must embrace this positive, optimistic vision of new innovations. While a healthy dose of scrutiny, scepticism and criticism is valuable, too often we lose out on the full impact of technology by doubting its true ability to change lives.

There has never been a more important time to embrace new ways to strengthen the connections between each other. Politics, culture, and society are becoming ever more polarised as major issues splinter long standing social ties and individuals retreat to the safety of their own echo chambers. The world may be getting smaller, but we risk the distance between us growing ever greater.

If we are to fully realise the promise of technology to make us all more open-minded, tolerant, and empathetic, it is the technology companies which live by these values that must take the lead. Organisations that truly believe technology can be used for good must be an example to others by promoting the qualities we hold dear, and developing smarter technologies which deliver on this promise.

If we do so, we can not only make customers’ lives easier, but transform people’s worldview and contribute to a greater understanding of the world and our shared human experience.

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Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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