Back in 1980, I picked up a book that I have read five times over the past 30 years, called The Technological System by Jacques Ellul. In it, Professor Ellul describes how technology is a profoundly self-generating process in human affairs that impacts every aspect of daily life. By “technology,” he does not just mean machines and mechanical devices, but also systems of thinking, learning, and organizing. If you just compare your life today, from a technological standpoint, with what surrounded you 20 years ago, your own experience will support Jacques Ellul’s thesis.
His central idea was that the whole world is now inside of a single technological system that continually increases the integration of all human attitudes and activities into a single culture. Ellul was a rather pessimistic academic and felt that this technological transformation of the global society was generally a bad thing for human individuality and freedom.
My own take on Ellul’s idea is that the technological system he describes is actually a vast, continually evolving, shared capability that enables individuals with a purpose in mind to continually increase the multipliers in their lives. The current technological system that is growing everywhere around us can be seen as either a bad thing or a good thing depending upon our individual creativity and responsibility.
The whole reality of human individualism and freedom must be re-invented in every generation and in response to continually changing circumstances. This was true a hundred years ago and is true today. In the early 2lst century, the best way to gain increasing personal autonomy and independence on an ongoing basis is by being an ambitious entrepreneur who grows a business through the use of all the different kinds of “multiplier” technologies that Jacques Elllul describes.
To be increasingly more successful, entrepreneurs have to be more productive in their use of the multipliers that are continually being created within the global technological system.