October 13, 2021
5 mins

The next chapter of human evolution.

Hello,

I was always taught to embrace the unexpected. So when I was asked this week if I wanted to look after an abandoned cat, I thought very hard about it. In the end, someone else took the cat, but the process made me rethink a lot of my views about technology.

Almost everyone in nr2, except myself and one other colleague, owns a pet. Indeed, if you look at the team on nr2.io, you’ll see that our Head of Relaxation and Head of Happiness are pets. 🙂

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This is not just an nr2 phenomenon.

As I looked into the logistics of owning a pet, I started with start-up products. It turns out the pet industry in South Korea is enormous. It is one of very few in which South Korea has more start-ups than China. The product range is extraordinary.

I discovered a new world of smart litterboxes, smart fountains and "air showers", which are designed to dry pets after a bath. Looking into what to do with the cat while I am travelling, I found hotels in South Korea specifically designed for cats. Lucky cats!

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Example of a smart drinker 넬로 from Cuckoo Electronics, and a very cute dog.

The articles around pet ownership make for very interesting reading. I found numerous clever arguments which compared owning cats to having children, negatively highlighting the time and cost involved in being a parent.

I also came across this ad:

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This is a robot from the start-up Varram. The robot is designed to act as company for pets when their owners aren’t at home. Given the demand for pets, I couldn’t help wondering:

What’s behind this surge in pet ownership?

Is it because we are working too hard and no longer have time compared to previous generations? If anything, the trend globally is towards reduced working hours. Is it that we like animals more than previous generations? Again, there appears little evidence to support this argument.

Is the rise in pet ownership linked to a declining wish to have children? Or could it be that as our lives become increasingly digital, we are looking for purpose in our own individual worlds? Is it getting harder to bring meaningful relationships into our lives?

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about what phones mean to us. If I revisit that idea now, it’s hard to avoid the thought that technology may not only be improving our existing functions, it may be changing our needs and behaviour.

Where are we all headed?

The first book that changed my view on life is Charles Darwin’s "On the origin of species". The book reframed how I thought about living things and why there were what they were.

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Another book to do that was Richard Dawkins’s "The selfish gene". This book explains life through the prism of genetics.

My exploration into pets has left me wondering whether the relationship between technology and psychology is the driver for the next stage of human evolution. Think about how fire and the creation of tools have shaped who we are today. Is it a stretch to say technology is shaping the next phase of our evolution?

If you wonder what keeps me up at night, and why I am so passionate about what we do at nr2, here you have it.

Thanks as ever for reading and, if you like what you see, please consider sharing!

Best,

Jordan