The technology I want in 2022

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This article is part of the On Tech Newsletter. Here is a compilation Past columns.

I want robots to destroy my laundry and clutter, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon.

The innovations that I am most interested in for myself and the world in 2022 bring more invaluable connection with others. As we enter the third year of the corona virus epidemic that physically divides us and divides us, the microdoses of human sympathy and community are what we need and deserve. Technology can help.

One of my favorite web developers during epidemics was a website called Window Swap, created by a couple in Singapore last year, that offers people video camera footage from strangers’ windows.

You can watch the drizzle on the deck in suburban Pennsylvania and then find out what’s going on outside of an apartment tower in Seoul. Yesterday, I saw for a few minutes a dark sky outside a beautiful window in Reykjavk. In a week full of destruction and my doomsday scrolling, it was a precious escape and a moment to reunite with others in the distance.

Window swap does not change the world. A few weeks after I first encountered it I mostly ignored the website. But it is captivating and peaceful.

You do not see people in the window swap, but you Feel They and they see the world with their eyes. That connection, even the quickest, is a precious resource. It is worth rooting for technologies and ideas that can bring that sense of togetherness even more.

Audio Chat Room Clubhouse, which attracted crowds during the Cowboys – has recently, perhaps less, brought people together to talk about a shared topic of interest or to participate as McDonald’s drive-through. A decade ago there was a similar internet craze called Chatroulette, which allowed people to cape at strangers for a few minutes through a webcam.

You can imagine how Chatroulette could go wrong and did. It turned out to be an opportunity for some to slander or harass. People in clubhouses and similar Twitter spaces can bully participants or traffic into extremist comments. Journalists reported that companies pay very little attention to the potential for harm.

But I appreciate the principle behind the innovations that unite people in new ways, and I yearn for creative ideas that help build relationships and discover community.

Earlier this year I wrote about the challenges of finding information, entertainment, and activities that we might like in an ocean full of the Internet. Computer models trained to understand our tastes can help us discover new things, but they can also drag us into more familiar ones or lead us down dangerous paths. It is even harder to find something new that makes more sense People And Social Rather than inventing new songs.

From the very beginning of internet life, many apps and websites have promised connectivity. Sometimes they provide, other times human relationships on cyberspace can be a bad alternative to the real thing.

But I still believe in that hockey promise that brings the world together online, in an effort to better understand each other and our world. That belief is complicated now, yes, because there are so many horror shows. The same inventions for social structure, the same inventions that came with our favorite Facebook group or the Discord Book Club, have brought people together to sink into conspiracies and promote racial violence.

There is also a nagging part of my brain that I wonder what we really have to heal the cracks together. What if we see the world through the eyes of others and it makes us angry and divided?

But I have to believe in the best that people and human society can do. More big and small technical ideas should help us.

Now it’s your turn. Which technology do you like the most in 2022, and why? Funny or serious, go for it! Respond in the comments and we may feature some of your ideas in a future newsletter. Add your full name and location.

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