Leave no man behind
Let’s get it right. The march of technology is driving Singapore’s push to be a SMART Nation. It is not our desire to be a SMART Nation that is making us relentlessly adopt technology.
In recent weeks, some segments of the population have questioned the government’s concerted push for citizens to switch to technology solutions to access government services. These critics' central argument is that older Singaporeans are being forced to change and for those who can’t, they will be left behind.
An article in TODAY today, spoke about how ride-hailing firms have changed the way taxi drivers pick up fares and that older taxi drivers are now at a disadvantage. The article even went on to say that older commuters, who have rejected the use of these mobile applications, are now left standing on the roadside waiting for the shrinking number of taxis.
While all these are fair arguments against the push for technology adoption across an entire society, none of them question the benefits that these technologies bring.
To me, instead of asking what will happen to those in society who are left behind, the more important question to be asking is what will happen to our society if we are all left behind. Technology will continue to advance whether we wish it to or not. And, as technological advances precipitate revolutions in all aspects of our lives, slowing our march is a dangerous proposition for Singapore as we are price-takers in the larger scheme of things.
The technology adoption lifecycle — a description of consumer behavior related to the acceptance of a new product or feature — identifies 5 categories. Innovators (2.5%), early adopters (13.5%), early majority (34%), late majority (34%) and laggards (16%).
Based on these rough percentages, I do not believe that 84% of society should be held hostage by the 16%. And truth be told, the UX and UI of modern technology make using technology easy to learn and use. Except for the very elderly who may no longer have the cognitive ability to learn, I believe those who choose not to adopt technology are self-entitled — believing that the G owes it to them to keep things the way they were.
As for the taxi drivers cited in TODAY’s article, perhaps I am heartless, but I feel no sympathy for them. You are running a “business.” If you refuse to evolve your business with the times, you only have yourself to blame.