Lenovo survey finds technology promotes empathy and tolerance

via Flickr © JanetR3 (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © JanetR3 (CC BY 2.0)

  • Or it least, that’s what the respondents say 
  • In fact Lenovo has jumped to some surprising conclusions 
  • We don’t think the numbers hold up to close inspection

I know it’s yet another self-serving survey (an SSS) but in this period of maximum online vitriol and toxicity (with both the US president and the UK prime minister both deservedly under siege both online and off) it might be nice to let a little technology upside into the picture. If we can.

Lenovo has completed a global study which reveals, it interprets hopefully, that the ‘technology’ (by which I assume the respondents are including violent computer games, Facebook, What’sApp, Youtube and Twitter as well as multi-channel TV) may be impacting our ‘human values’ for the better, or at least that some people still seem to believe it is (not necessarily the same thing).

According to Lenovo’s interpretation of its study results:  

  • Over a third (38%) of those participating in the study, believe current technology is making people more open-minded and tolerant by allowing us to see the lives of people across the world

  • 35% think technology is making us more understanding whilst 32% believe it makes us more charitable

So how do the other 60% or so feel?

  • Nearly twice as many people (66%)  believe Virtual Reality (VR) has the potential to increase understanding of other cultures even more. 

You’ll notice that the ‘current’ technology where benefits and downsides are pretty much evident, appears to elicit half the enthusiasm of the technology (VR) that’s not really with us yet and whose real impact is therefore impossible to gauge this far out. 

There’s nothing wrong with the sample size or its international nature. The survey polled more than 15,000 people from the US, Mexico, Brazil, China, India, Japan, UK, Germany, France and Italy, claims Lenovo.

But Lenovo says that it found that a large proportion of those surveyed feel that technology has the power to make us more understanding, tolerant, charitable and open-minded.

But you have to say that its interpretation of the percentages is ‘interesting’. 

It found that nine out of ten respondents (89%) think that technology plays a large role in their day-to-day lives and 84 % said that technology improves their lives because, Lenovo presumes, it is capable of helping us achieve our daily tasks – such as emails, streaming and so on. Fine.

But somehow Lenovo is persuaded, on a much lower percentage of positive responses, that sweetness and light is also breaking out. It reports that the rather pathetic percentage (38%) who believe that smart devices such as PCs, tablets, smartphones and VR are making people more open-minded and tolerant, is a positive indicator (what about the rest of the respondents who don’t?) and again, it says that over a third (35%) apparently believe technology is making us more understanding and empathetic.  

Now it may be that with the current hysteria around the online world’s harms that it’s possible to see 35% as an encouraging percentage, given the headwinds. 

Many of us hold an optimistic view that technology can be bent into a shape that makes it beneficial to us and society, so maybe we just like to read an encouraging sign now and again. If so here it is.  But I can’t really buy it.

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