Technology enriches our lives, empowers consumers and makes it possible toshare knowledge on an unprecedented scale. It also raises important questions onhow much more we can do and what we should do next.

In fields like education, marketing, design and aging, we've just begun tounderstand the potential of technologies to serve society. As the new year dawns, TeleTech has published Technology of Us, a book that examinesthat potential through the eyes of 15 people like director George Lucas, designer GadiAmit, marketer Don Peppers, architect Rachel Armstrong and aging expert Laura Carstensen.

CMSWire obtained permissionto publish brief excerpts here.You can read the completeessays by all 15 contributors at

Empathy: The New Catalyst for Innovation

Ken Tuchman, Chairman and CEO, TeleTech


Customersare finally being recognized as the valuable individuals they are. They aregravitating toward brands that make things easy and enjoyable for them, and theydon’t have patience for anythingless...

We believe that the most important value for business in this emerging era isempathy. Successful organizations will see the world through the eyes of everycustomer who interacts with their brand. They will walk in their customers’shoes, with every interaction, on every device, across every channel, everytime. This kind of empathy, as we see it, is the highest-order value for what itmeans to be human.

Creating and applying true humanity for business, at scale, can presentmonumental challenges. But the goal breaks down into a few core principles.First, companies need to philosophically commit to putting customers first;nothing else matters. Second, they need to think about building relationshipswith customers as they would with their own friends, not as faceless, namelessaccount numbers. Only then, finally, can companies harness the full potential oftechnology to personalize every interaction to create a truly human experience —one that anticipates needs, respects time, appreciates effort and valuesindividuality.

How We'll Be Fit and Happy at 100

Laura L.Carstensen, Director, Centeron Longevity, Stanford University


The greatest gap in longevity technologies concerns an unfilled need to helpyoung people age well. For the first time in history, young people cananticipate with considerable certainty that they will be old people (for a verylong time). Yet the human brain is ill-suited to plan decades ahead. The distantfuture, for most of us, is hazy at best. It’s no wonder that we don’t saveenough money or exercise like we should. Rather than resign ourselves to doom,we need to recognize these human foibles and develop technologies that help usaddressthem...

Virtual reality is but one technology that could help people age well.Technologies can help people monitor spending habits and make wise investments.Technologies can make lifelong education possible and rather than exacerbateclass disparities, technologies can be designed to reduce them. 

The greatestobstacle may be lack of imagination. As much as we may fancy ourselves free-thinking, humans are creatures of culture; and the crux of the longevitychallenge is, quite frankly, that we live in a culture that evolved around liveshalf as long.

The Emerging Power of Visual Literacy

George Lucas, Filmmaker and Entrepreneur


We must teach communication comprehensively, in all its forms. Today we workwith the written or spoken word as the primary form of communication. But wealso need to understand the importance of graphics, music and cinema, which arejust as powerful and in some ways more deeply intertwined with young people’sculture. We live and work in a visually sophisticated world, so we must besophisticated in using all the forms of communication, not just the writtenword.

When people talk to me about the digital divide, I think of it not being so muchabout who has access to what technology as who knows how to create and expressthemselves in this new language of the screen. If students aren’t taught thelanguage of sound and images, shouldn’t they be considered as illiterate as ifthey left college without being able to read or write?...

You can measure verbal or math skills by determining whether a student is rightor wrong on a test -- in other words, whether they’re learning or not. Withvisual communication, some might argue it’s trickier to measure progress andcompetency.But there are rules for telling a story visually that are just as important asgrammatical rules or math terms, and you can test people on them as well.

A Higher Calling: For Product Design - Emotional Intelligence

Gadi Amit, Founder of NewDealDesign


For technology to move forward, technologists need to accept the leadership ofdesigners, artists, and writers, who see the world through a different, morehumanistic lens.Cars will create a need for new platforms, too. In the future, I think you willsimply plug your smartphone into what used to be the dashboard, and the phonewill become your interface. The car will essentially become a microchip withwheels, and will communicate with an Internet-based car app, which drivers canthen customize.

Learning Opportunities

I believe the biggest challenge in Silicon Valley today is building moreproducts based on good design. Yet too many people with technology backgroundswho lack a deep understanding of those principles populate the industry.

For technology to move forward, technologists need to accept the leadership ofdesigners, artists and writers, who see the world through a different, morehumanistic lens. In the next few years, design’s influence and authority willcontinue to grow among businesses. Companies that won’t — or don’t — acknowledgethis will fade.

Busting Through the Physical Barrier in Digital Design

Jinha Lee, Head of Samsung Electronics Interactive Visualization Lab


Here’s the problem: The communication link between humans and the digital toolsthat surround us is often very small and narrow. It’s typically just the tip ofyour finger. Touch a screen to enter data. On the other hand, we have alldeveloped great skills to sense and interact with the physical space thatsurrounds us.

It’s time to think about interfaces that blur the boundaries between the digitaland physical space, that engage digital information in physical and spatialforms, drawing on our innate senses to interact with digital information usingthe full dexterity of our hands, creating a more intuitive, effective andenjoyable experience. 

One of my research projects, SpaceTop, which I started atMicrosoft Applied Sciences Group and MIT Media Lab, looked at this approach.Weturned a little space above the keyboard into a 3D digital workspace whereinusers can reach in with their hands to manipulate digital objects...It is a combination of a transparent display, depthcameras and a new design of desktop hardware that makes it possible for users tomanipulate 3D pixels in space with their bare hands. I believe the applicationsof this will be huge.

Optimism: A Driving Force of Human Evolution

Don Peppers, Author and Founding Partner of Peppers and Rogers Group


Undoubtedly, some people look at the marvels of technology and see only disasterlooming. Many of us are predisposed to pay more attention to bad news than togood. If evolution has taught us one thing well, it is that survival depends onbeing cautious. So in our minds, dangers often register much more vividly thanbenefits. 

But history has not been kind to pessimists. There have been a largenumber of them over the years, because it isn’t hard to earn fame and fortune bypeddling a compellingly pessimistic view.But none of these pessimists has everbeen right, or even close to right...

Yes, technology can create problems, but new innovations seem to solve theproblems caused by earlier iterations long before they lead to societaldisaster, whether these problems arise from a shortage of resources, or aconcentration of power and wealth, or environmentaldestruction... For human society there is no such thing asutopia, in the sense of a “perfect” society that can get no better. Technologymay be giving all of us longer, richer and happier lives, but we can do stillbetter. We can do it faster, more efficiently, more conveniently, moreequitably. Technological progress has a sunny disposition.  

Titleimage by [email protected](Flickr) via a CCBY-NC-SA 2.0 license. George Lucas image by Neon Tommy (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Additional photo credits: Laura Carstensen from Stanford University, Gadi Amit from NewDealDesign, Ken Tuchman, JinhaLee and Don Peppers from TeleTech.