In the grand delusion that is Brexit, the grandest delusion of all is the Brexiteers’ fawning adoration of the Technology God. According to Brexiteers, the Technology God will banish all problems, particularly those associated with the border on the island of Ireland. Grand Boffo Johnson ascended the mountain, and the Technology God conveyed the message that there existed no need for a border because the Technology God would solve everything. No evidence, no detail required, just faith in the Technology God.
Years ago, I encountered a senior UK civil servant who told me his colleagues had a type of technology PTSD. “Whenever they hear the word ‘technology’ being uttered by a Minister,” he said, “their instinct is to crawl under the table.”
I know I should be battle-hardened at this stage, but I am still astounded by the toxic mixture of arrogance and ignorance that exists at the senior-management level concerning technology. The Technology God is everywhere and is one of the core reasons we continue to see declines in productivity and living standards despite the massive investment in technology.
In government, disastrous technology-related decisions follow a relentless monotonous pattern. In Ireland, for example, we have a technology-driven national ID card fiasco that is “mandatory but not compulsory” (yes, an actual politician uttered those idiotic words). We have a broadband plan, which though noble in its intent, seems to be managed by the slowest of slow minds.
When I visited Canada last year, they were still embroiled in the Phoenix payroll system fiasco. Phoenix (what a name!) has been described by Canada’s top auditor as an “incomprehensive failure.” But it’s not at all incomprehensible; rather, it’s totally and absolutely comprehensible and predictable because such technology disasters happen year in, year out on a global scale. They are caused by bad, delusional managers who are total, relentless suckers for the fairy-tale IT sales executives bearing gifts from the Technology God.
The Technology God will get rid of workers and cut so many costs, there won’t be any costs left to cut. The Technology God will be so easy to use that it will be a dream. Bugs will be banned, ordered out, vaporized. Poof!
“But Prime Minister, there is not a border on earth where technology has made everything friction-free thus making the border invisible.”
“Blobberdash! Smelly socks and horsehair! The Technology God solves all problems!”
“But Prime Minister…”
“Enough! Away! Who brought me this fool who talks dangerous sense? The Technology God. Hi ho, away!”
Pull your hair out. Throw your hands in the air. But remember, it is not you who are insane. Rather, it’s those senior managers and politicians who lose all sense of rational thinking, when it comes to technology.
Technology is powerful, but it is not all-powerful, and the Technology God does not exist. Though possibly dangerous and career-threatening, we must patiently and persistently put technology in its proper context. We must continue to point out that making truly easy-to-use technology takes considerably more resources than most budgets allow, that getting things into a reasonable state tends to take twice as long as we think, that investing in continuous improvement and maintenance is the way to go, and, the irony of ironies, that without quality people, there cannot be quality technology.