How technology can power our connection to the natural world

Humanity continues to find new ways of pushing the limits of technology, to discover the edges of innovation. Whether it's sending a car into space, exploring the potential for nanotechnology to support hyper-targeted drug therapies, creating virtual worlds or an artificial intelligence that responds to our spoken commands; most of these ideas were solely in the domain of science fiction 30 years ago.

How technology can power our connection to the natural world

These remarkable achievements shine a spotlight on the impact of the human footprint on our planet, and in many ways, demonstrate how technology has changed our traditional connection with the natural world. The term biophilia describes our inherent connection with nature, but this can be displaced when smartphones and other digital technology see us spend more time in the virtual world, rather than the physical here and now. However, the digital world also provides a massive opportunity to inspire a reconnection with the natural world, providing digital technology that allows adults and children alike to explore the outside world in a structured, safe, fun and educational way. 

A society losing touch

Research suggests that seven out of ten people feel they are losing touch with nature, just as we are on the verge of making irreversible changes which will affect generations to come. Documentaries such as BBC’s Blue Planet are a crucial way of raising awareness of the issues we face, including the looming ocean plastics crisis, but more can and must be done. Large organisations, with the resources and skills to make a difference, must lead the way in protecting our planet, by using technology to inspire and engage future generations with the natural world.

Industry must play a role

By recognising the role technology can play in driving human progress and change, organisations like ours can find ways to engage the next generations in STEM subjects and the world around us. For many years now, Dell EMC’s technology has supported the work of the Natural History Museum’s scientists, allowing them to undertake new research, process large amounts of data and, crucially, make discoveries that were beyond our reach in the past.

The museum stands as a window into the history of the natural world, offering unique access to pieces of our past as well as insights into the present and future. One way this has been achieved is through industry partnerships and technology, which have helped bring the past to life and reignite the interest of the younger generations in the natural world.

Tackling a national challenge

Our industry partnership, which involves working closely with Microsoft and Intel, also supports the Natural History Museum’s iconic diplodocus “Dippy” on its three-year tour around the UK. Dippy is travelling around the UK exploring the extraordinary biodiversity in eight locations, encouraging people to get out and explore the nature on their doorstep.

Together, using the power of technology, Dell EMC and the Natural History Museum are creating an application that will harness the power of technology to provide people with the tools to go on their own Natural History Adventures, just like Dippy, and inspire the next generation of scientists with a love of the natural world.  

Greater accessibility is the key to unlocking the past and engaging young people with the natural world. By engaging new audiences in STEM we can breakdown the stereotype of who scientists are and what they do and increase diversity amongst STEM professionals.  After all, it is the responsibility of industry leaders to inspire young individuals and help them to understand the exciting opportunities that a career in STEM holds; and of course the power of technology to drive common good and human progress.

A commitment to environmental responsibility

Dippy’s tour around the UK is just one example of how organisations can support society’s connection with the natural world. Another important focus must be on driving social and environmental change through changing our own practices. Dell Technologies’ 2020 Legacy of Good plan, outlines ambitious goals we are committed to reaching related to the environment, our people, and the communities we live and work. One of these goals, for example, is to use 100 million pounds of recycled-content plastic and other sustainable materials in our products. As part of this, we’re working with cross-industry partners to educate others on sustainable circular economy best practices and to set an example for others on how we can play a role in limiting the amount of plastics entering our seas, amongst other environmental challenges.

It’s evident that operating in a digital environment can leave us feeling disengaged with the natural world. But businesses have a big opportunity to initiate change and help the next generation to reconnect with the planet. Our ongoing work with the Natural History Museum is just one example of how organisations can pool their resources to inspire future generations in a fun and community-orientated way.

By promoting STEM skills within communities, we are encouraging them to think about how technology can help support the protection of our natural world. It is our responsibility to recognise that it is through collaboration and small behaviour changes, that a big difference can be made.

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