Futurist Jamais Cascio says that the best way to understand a new technology isn’t to ask the people who made it. Instead, you need to ask the people who are using it in off-label ways to do potentially illicit things. These are the people who are going to find the most compelling ways of using things, and also unpack the ways a new tech might impact society in unpredictable ways.
At a panel of futurists at Fast Company‘s Innovation Uncensored conference, as part of our Futurist Forum, Cascio said: “If you what to find out how to use a new emerging tool, don’t ask the people who invent it, because they have a very narrow view of what it’s supposed to be used for. The people who are hacking it–the people who use it for crime, who use it to have sex, who use it to do something fun or different–those are the people who are going to find out the little interesting variations.”
He cites the example of the hack of the AP’s Twitter feed saying Obama had been injured in a bombing at the White House. Was the subsequent market crash incidental, or had it been the goal of the hackers–to game the stock market and make some cash. Cascio says we may never know, but looking at how people had been hacking Twitter in its early days could have given us a better sense of the potential dangers that the new technology could pose–instead of just thinking it was how people told others about their breakfast.