- Predictive policing - “At what point does the possibility of a crime require intervention?”
- Do-it-yourself cyborgs - “Does turning animals [cockroaches] into cyborgs treat animals as ‘toys’ or give us a new appreciation for their complexity?”
- Data chip implants - “Can these implants become a mandatory form of ID?”
- Sexbots - “[How does this change] the norms and values in human interaction?”
- Virtual currency - “Will Bitcoin lead a revolution in currency, or go the way of the Zimbabwean dollar?”
- Neuroenhancement - “Neurostimulation can be used to boost motor function, improve memory…Do we have a responsibility to be the best humans we can be?”
- Geoengineering - “One nation’s policy decision could immediately and adversely affect another country’s economic well-being.”
- Property rights in space - “What rights do private companies have to outer space if they provide the primary, or even sole, means to reach it?”
- Automated law enforcement - “At what point is human instinct and judgment necessary in the enforcement of law or prevention of crimes?”
- Human-machine interfaces - “When we can make our bodies part machine, is it necessary to redefine personhood?”
New technology will always seem exciting & at times, sexy. But how do we know if this new tech will ‘last’ or even reach a critical mass of users? Or is it purely a gimmick?
The key question we can ask is 'How does this technology contribute to peoples' lives?'
- Utility: Utility must be the first thing that comes to many peoples’ minds when it comes to value-adding. Definitely, one way technology can contribute to people’s lives is by adding value through utility. Your car’s GPS will never be a gimmick as long as it helps to point you to the right direction.
- Information: Does it (gadget or even app) helps people in how they receive information? Whether it’s by feeding real-time information or aggregating most useful information, it’s all about being contextual. Again with the GPS system example, it brings you the information of where to go when you want to go to the place.
- Entertainment: Not all tech are meant to be useful. Many serve the purpose of just entertaining the users. The key question here is how is your tech going to change the way people consume entertainment media? The ultimate example is the classic GameBoy, where they enabled gaming on-the-go.
There are definitely other killer factors that determine the sales success, but those can always be improved or optimised. It’s ugly? They can make it prettier. It’s expensive? The price will drop sooner or later. It’s not a status symbol? It can become premium. Bad marketing? They can always tell a different message. Ultimately, if the creators can’t answer the question of how their product can contribute to people’s lives, it’s a matter of time we’ll say goodbye to the gimmicky gadget.