Crum gave a salient example at the beginning of the interview about how this all works in concert for a better world, using the construction industry. Did you know that a whopping 40% of work that’s done in the industry is not innovation, it’s “rework;” which essentially is doing work over again, so that you can correct any mistakes. This obviously has a huge impact on crucial environmental factors like carbon emissions. Countries around the world are trying to fight back against climate change, while the U.S. is still one of the top 10 carbon producers. In 2022 alone, the US emitted 4.4 billion tons of CO2. You would think those numbers alone would encourage construction companies to cut down on “reworking” projects to save the planet. However, Crum argues that in order to see real change at the industry level, with decision makers that actually matter, you have to find an alignment of goals. CO2 emissions alone may not push the industry to change its practices, but what about if their bottom line was in jeopardy? Reworking is not only bad for the environment, it’s also bad for business. Environmental issues aside, Crum highlights just how detrimental reworking projects can be on revenue, costs, machines, and essentially, “every part of the things that hit my bottomline.” Fortunately, when we all need the same thing, whether it’s cleaner air or happy clients and consumers, as long as we point our needs in a common direction like revenue, that’s when you see the real change that gives better value not only to industries, but to consumers.
Knowledge is power, right? That’s what Crum believes. Which is why she suggests that we should not keep the advancements of technology tracking users’ experiences a secret. Instead of the Sci-fi thriller concept, that spooks users into thinking “Big Brother/Big Tech ” is watching you for sinister means, make the technology and its use plain, so that users win back their agency. According to Crum, “It’s one thing to know it can be used, it’s another thing to then understand that it’s actually going to give me a better experience. And I get to take advantage of it.” Instead of consumers being lab rats or test subjects for tech companies, they can harness the power of the algorithms and user tracking data to make their experience online and in their physical environment even better.
If there’s one key takeaway from this riveting discussion about us and our relationship to technology, it’s that we’re all remarkably different and tech features like “digital twins” can emulate everything from microbiome, our bodies, or brains. Why? For optimization, of course! The expectation that we require unique tools for our physical bodies to thrive in optimal environments, also carries over to our minds, anatomy and physiology. The advancements we’ve made in technology make it possible, now more than ever, to tailor your specific digital journey to your needs, behaviors, wants and desires. There are devices right now that can pick up on important biomedical data like attention, mood states like depression, while lodged in your ear, which Crum calls, “the window to the soul.” There’s so much data hidden in plain sight in our ears. For instance, when our eyes move, it sends a tiny electrical signal that can easily be picked up by our ears by using an EEG. There is a shift happening, where the work of innovation is being done in the person and the home, and we’re excited to see what that progress will look like for 2023.