Through a Glass Darkly: are you an innovator or a laggard when it comes to tech?

Are you the type who’s enchanted by tech, willing to wait in long lines to be among the first to get your hands on the latest iPhone? Or are you more of a pragmatist, patiently weighing up the pros and cons before buying a new gadget?

Cybernews journalists are back with a new episode of our podcast “Through a Glass Darkly.” This time, we’re discussing the different stages of tech adoption. In this 54-minute episode we’ll dive headlong into topics like:

  • Who’s benefiting from rapid technology adoption
  • Why some people can’t be tech innovators, even if they wanted to
  • Should you allow your child to be immersed in the tech world?
  • Is innovation in tech real, or is that just another shiny marketing term?
  • Should we regulate tech in an attempt to preserve our Earth?
  • The social injustices that an overly-tech focused world could create

Tech adoption theory

According to the sociological model of technology adoption life cycle, there are five stages:

  • Innovators – less than 3%
  • Early adopters – 14%
  • Early majority – 33%
  • Late majority – 33%
  • Laggards – 18%

Now, nearly every tutorial or explainer you’ll find online will use the word "laggard," giving it a negative connotation. However, we, being more cautious about technology due to its potential dangers, from online bullying to cyber theft, believe in the power of informed decisions.

Originally, the model was laid down by George M. Beal and Joe M. Bohlen. Instead of the word “laggard” it simply said “non-adopters”.

People reluctant to embrace new technology are not lagging behind, they’re just not customers worth spending time on – when seen from big tech’s perspective.

One simply can’t afford to be an innovator

My colleague Gintaras Radauskas reckons that innovators are either guys working in tech companies with a direct supply of emerging technologies, or really rich people. They’re the ones who find bugs and suggest cool features for new devices. How do they know what the populace needs?

I myself would love to immerse myself deeper into technology, since I get excited by upgrades and fancy new devices. But the Apple Headset will cost $3,500. I simply can’t afford to be an innovator or even an early adopter on a device like this, with a battery lasting only a couple of hours.

Innovation hoax

You’ve just bought your iPhone14, but before you can even feel smug about your cutting edge status, there’s already a new model on the way. The speed at which tech companies attempt to push “innovation” is supersonic. And it seemingly has an effect on people. While the lifespan of iPhones is 4-10 years, and Samsungs 3-6 years, reports claim that people tend to change their devices every 2.5 years.

Why the discrepency? Personally, I choose to upgrade my devices when they start annoying me. For example, if the battery lasts only for half a day, the screen is shattered, or the operating system becomes excruciatingly slow. Are the new devices I upgrade to more exciting? Yes, of course, the camera might be better, the screen bigger, and so on. But is that really an innovation?

What true innovations are there available to buy? E-readers, tablets, smart speakers, virtual reality glasses? Haven’t we already embraced every piece of technology that actually works for us?

Sure, sometimes new features are so cool that you’re tempted to upgrade. Like a phone with 5G or a smartwatch with an e-SIM card.

The only things I really find innovative are Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Now, there’s something hard to resist! Smart curtains, flasks measuring your water intake, smart locks, toasters, cars, and many more. But are they really life changers, or just something nice to have? If so, then what’s the price?

Earth drowning in “innovation”

Yes, maybe you can afford to toss out your old phone and get a shiny new one. But it comes as no surprise that tech consumerism results in pollution. Not that long ago, we published an article looking into the devastating effect our love for top-notch technology has on African countries.

Africa, and especially Ghana’s capital Accra, is now infamous for being a digital graveyard for computers, TVs, and other electronics from developed countries. Did you know that around 350,000 metric tons of e-waste leave Europe illegally every year while in the US, three quarters of used devices end up in landfills.

The right-to-repair concept in Europe and the US should, at least in theory, bring repair costs down. This will hopefully prolong the life cycle of a device.

What does “through a glass darkly” mean?

While our primary goal is to maintain objectivity, we acknowledge our inherent humanity as we strive to provide our readers, viewers, and now listeners with a comprehensive understanding of the ever-expanding cyber landscape. This is precisely why we chose the name for our podcast, "Through a Glass Darkly," drawing inspiration from the biblical expression used by the Apostle Paul, signifying a limited clarity when it comes to envisioning the future.

Our discussions often involve speculation about what lies ahead, eliciting both excitement and trepidation regarding the tech evolution or revolution. As we maintain a strong emphasis on cybersecurity, we find ourselves naturally inclined toward a somewhat "doomsday" perspective, perceiving the world through lenses shaded in darkness rather than rose-tinted hues.

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Straight from Black Mirror: striking Hollywood actors fight digital doubles

Three different types of artificial intelligence, explained

Johnny Cash sings ‘Barbie Girl’ in AI cover

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