Thinking in Decades

by | Jul 14, 2020 | ICT4D |

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today.

Chinese Proverb

When we plant a tree, we are often planting for our grandchildren and future generations. It is not so much for us. There is something wonderful and sobering about this act.

It is a long term act. One of full of hope and promise. It is also one requiring care in the early years. In our garden we put rabbit guards around our trees and give them a shot of water on dry weeks. This helps them get established and on their way.

It’s made me wonder what if we thought of technology or software like trees. Many trees take 20-30 years to mature and then some can last 100, 200, 500 years or longer. Like one of the oak trees in our garden. So what if we thought about the choices we make from our unborn grandchildren’s perspective? Would our decisions change?

It is said the speed of computing power doubles every 12-18 months now. How do we balance that with the long term view? What are the questions about artificial intelligence we need to start or keep asking? How does the conversation change when we stop and think in terms of hundreds of years from now?

Some days I sit in garden staring at our 300 year old oak tree wondering what life was like on this plot of land when it first started growing. The industrial revolution had not yet started. My ancestors would have been poor farmers in the Netherlands. But so much has changed in the past centuries, in the past few decades.

Thinking in decades and centuries gives us a different perspective. And perhaps it helps us create more responsible uses of technology in organisations and the technology itself.

Photo by George Bakos

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