Philosopher CEO

Knowledge@Wharton writes:

Technology is no longer an exclusive focus of companies like IBM or Microsoft. Instead, technology is also on its way to becoming the core asset of consumer goods companies like Wal-Mart and, in fact, of any company, says Gideon Tolkowsky, principal of BME Capital. But this brings us to a metaphysical question: What is the meaning of technology? For example, a personal computer can be regarded as a communication tool by a business executive, as an educational tool by a teacher and as a toy by a child. Different meanings to a given technology can co-exist, or replace one another sequentially. As more companies operate in a global environment, they will need to do more than simply ask whether the technological state-of-the art enables the development of a given product. They will instead have to consider what the technology means to each segment of the market and accordingly, how to position the technology-based product.

He adds that although its a given that technological assets can determine the progress of an individual, a company or even a nation, the decision to embrace or to reject technology is itself deeply affected by abstract ideas that are embedded in an individuals (or a nations) general life philosophy.

The field of the philosophy of technology is relatively young, says Tolkowsky. It was founded on the stipulation that technological change is a driver of historical processes, but newer theories challenged this deterministic approach and advocated a reverse direction of the causal arrow, namely — that it is social change that triggers technological innovation.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.