Technology spiralled out of control over the past decade — now we have to fix it

Technology spiralled out of control over the past decade — now we have to fix it

Technology firms enjoy uninhibited growth in decade following financial crash, writes Rhiannon Williams

Saturday, 28th December 2019, 8:02 am

People take photos of Pope Francis with their smartphones in November 2019 (Photo: Getty)

While worldwide economies were still struggling with the aftershock of the global financial crisis in 2010, the technology industry emerged largely unscathed and poised for a decade characterised by both uninhibited growth and devastating scandals.

It’s hard to believe that streaming’s largest players were still finding their feet at the beginning of the decade, or that streaming as a concept was still fairly alien. Spotify launched in October 2008 and by the following year, UK TV channels BBC, ITV and Channel 4 were taking their first tentative steps into making programmes available online and “on demand”.

Netflix, best known at the time as a US DVD rental company, wouldn’t launch its streaming arm in the UK until 2012, sinking millions into original content to universal acclaim. Other multi-million businesses in their infancy at the start of the decade include Uber, Tinder and Airbnb.

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Tinder is a relatively recent phenomenon, having only launched in the UK in 2013 (Photo: Getty)

Although the death of co-founder Steve Jobs sent ripples through the industry in 2011, the company managed to kickstart mainstream consumer interest in tablets and smartwatches with 2010’s iPad and 2014’s Apple Watch. Fitness trackers and other wearables – practically non-existent in 2009 – are now common sights on many wrists, and the likes of Apple, Google and most importantly Amazon have installed an army of millions of smart speakers in homes across the world.

Apple chief executive and co-founder Steve Jobs died in October 2011 (Photo: Getty)

Similarly, the past decade will also be remembered as the one in which social media evolved from early pioneers Faceparty, Habbo Hotel and Myspace into something altogether more powerful – and sinister. Facebook and Twitter were originally credited with connecting the world, while Instagram and YouTube gave ordinary people a visual platform to express themselves on, subsequently accelerating both the rise of the influencer and the troll.

The Kardashians helped to pioneer a new generation of influencer (Photo: Getty)
This decade has seen debates rage over the use of encryption (Photo: Reuters)

We’re likely to witness even more seismic changes in tech throughout the next decade, as 5G is rolled out across the world, artificial intelligence becomes even smarter and even more of the world becomes connected. Whether the 2020s are remembered as the years in which the technology industry took responsibility for its actions or was allowed to continue evolving out of our control remains to be seen.

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