By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
We are used to hearing about "technophobia," or a fear of new, confusing, powerful and scary gadgets. In modern times, however, it's opposite -- technophilia -- is likely to play a stronger role. Take the current launch of the Apple Watch. While it is likely to generate at least some criticism and disappointments, it will, by all indications, succeed in the market anyway. After all, that is what we expect new technology to do: to be adopted and to make life easier and better over time. We expect our next computer to be thinner, faster, and prettier than our last computer. This belief in the success and inevitable advance of technology has a name: the "Technology Effect."
The Technology Effect is explored in a new study (Clark, Robert & Hampton, 2015) showing that we tend to associate technology with success and to overestimate the chances that any given new technology will be adopted. In our minds, "new," "different," "cool," and "better" all become merged in a positive glow of technological optimism. Sure, we will curse our computers when they don't do what we want, and we'll be frustrated when Siri doesn't understand what we're asking. But on the whole, we still love our gadgets, love what they can do -- and what's more -- we expect them to succeed in getting better and better over time. And sometimes that assumption is accurate, and sometimes it isn't. In legal cases having to do with technology, most notably intellectual property cases, our general attitudes toward technology and its success can be highly relevant. In this post, I'll take a look at the study and what it means for those cases that overlap with technology.