Mark, Max and Millions of Missed Opportunities: A World Where No One Is Left Behind
I am a big Formula One fan. Not just because Max Verstappen is said to be a compatriot because he is not. He is a Belgian pretending to be Dutch. A bit fake, but what a nice guy, great driver and car.
Today, however, I saw Mark Zuckerberg‘s presentation on the Rayban Meta glasses. I thought of Formula 1 because I dream of the moment when I can watch every race live in 360 degrees from any car I choose. Reliving the start from different cars, seeing who caused which accident, and of course, riding along when Max breaks another record.
But now it’s about Meta and Mark Zuckerberg, the man who chose censorship on an unprecedented scale and who is thought to have stolen his idea from a housemate. That Mark, one of the richest people in the world, is not known for his compassion either. It is not about Formula 1 now but about him and his presentation.
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What can you use the Rayban Meta glasses for?
According to Mark, you can use the glasses to ask questions about the building you are in front of, translate a sign, or get assistance in fixing your faucet. Step by step, Meta and the glasses will guide you.
You might now think my complaint is about not being able to ride with Max while looking through his glasses. But it isn’t. My point is that there are many more practical and essential applications for this AI and camera revolution in glasses.
Have you ever been to an orphanage in Africa, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, or any other developing country? Have you been able to see for yourself how bad the conditions are there? Do you know how it feels to live with AIDS in such a country, knowing that you are dying even though there is plenty of medication available? Have you ever been able to ask someone like that how they feel?
Have you ever experienced how it is that over 10,000 children under the age of 6 die of hunger every day, and wondered how this is possible and what we can do about it – maybe even with the help of Rayban Meta glasses?
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve never experienced this personally. I have. But like you, I too might prefer to dream of riding along with Max.
How leaders present their innovation:
These days, everyone and every company has to be ‘Woke’ and pursue sustainability, or we will perish. If not, the world will go down. As a company in the West, if you are not pro-‘woke’, pro-environment, or pro-whatever the government/media advises us to be, you no longer count.
But do those 180 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 who are forced to work count? And what about those 110 million war refugees, the 1 billion illiterate, and all those other vulnerable people I won’t mention now? Do they even matter?
For decades, there have been billions of vulnerable people in this world who pay for it with an unbearable life or death. Then we invent new technologies and present them and use them to find out more about Notre Dame or fix that luxury tap that pours hot, cold, spray water, and bubble water. Are there really no better applications to think of?
Bad news sells well because it has become the norm.
I too watch the news and wonder if I still want to see all the misery. Negative news has become the norm because positive stories and solutions apparently attract less attention.
But what if Mark stands up and says, “We can use this for our own convenience, but here’s a million for the best idea to use this technology to prevent poverty, misery, death, and trauma?”
What if that is the pitch for his billion-dollar idea?
What if for once we focus not only on climate, extinct polar bears, ‘woke’ movements, and COVID-19, but also on the problems we have been ignoring for decades? We don’t have to look far. In the Netherlands, once one of the richest countries in the world, 1 million out of 17.4 million people live below the poverty line as I write this.
They cannot pay for their groceries and spend winters in the cold because the government refuses to use our own gas for the population. What we have too much, we sell. So with those Rayban glasses, can we look in on that single welfare mother and ask her how we can help, and ask the AI for practical solutions?
Or is that not important enough? Would we rather look away because the Arc de Triomphe is more appealing?
Doing good in a commercial world is not easy.
I also have to put on the penitence myself. I have to be self-reflective. In 2018, we launched a platform called CallTheOne. The original concept was cross-border interaction via live video calls, where, for example, someone from the West pays for sewing lessons from someone from Ghana. It’s cheaper than here and for them, it pays more.
However, under my leadership, the platform took too commercial a turn and started attracting Western professionals seeking each other’s expertise. I envisaged it differently, although I should have known better. We are now trying to turn it around. Our goal is to make it a microfinance platform, where people can express their financial or material needs and others can donate or use their services.
We are still looking for partners, so if you feel called, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Mispositioning is human. But isn’t it high time we encouraged influential leaders to use their innovative thinking skills for the benefit of our fellow human beings? And not just for the topics that are ‘hot’ right now, but especially for those topics that have been underexposed for too long and rarely make the news.
That would really be a news story and a new twist.
Technology at the service of humanity
Today’s technological progress is impressive. The possibilities are endless, and the promises are great. But as with any revolution, we must ask ourselves: who are we doing all this for? Is it just for the convenience and entertainment of the Western world? Or is there a deeper, nobler purpose we can pursue?
Clearly, innovation has the potential to make real, tangible changes in the lives of billions of people around the world. But to do so, we need to rethink our priorities. Instead of focusing only on the next big innovation that will make our lives easier, we must also look at the ways in which technology can improve the lives of the most vulnerable.
I therefore call on all technology companies, large and small, to think about the broader impact of their products and services. Let us use our collective intelligence, resources, and power of innovation to create a world where everyone, regardless of where they were born or what circumstances they have experienced, has access to the opportunities and benefits that technology offers.
Let us use technology as a powerful tool for positive change, and not just as a means for profit or entertainment. That is the challenge we now face. And I believe that if we work together, we can build a world where no one is left behind.