We are getting close to the point, and in some cases have already arrived, at which we are unable to function normally without the assistance of augmentation.
When was the last time you stopped staring at your phone or took a vacation from your social media accounts?
We are already, to some extent, cyborgs, as I’ve mentioned previously, and even while we don’t have cybernetic implants as the Borg have, we nonetheless cling to our electronics as if ripping them away from us would tear at the flesh. Worse yet, we have started to place our faith in our electronic devices; I am just as guilty of this as everyone else. Whenever I schedule a call or a meeting, I have to immediately add it to my calendar; otherwise, I will never remember it. I have even gone so far as to argue that if the meeting is not on my calendar, then it does not exist.
I’m using the device as a backup brain, my off-brain storage facility, and all of the information can be accessed in an instant with only a few touches. Many productivity experts, such as Robert Allen, author of the book Getting Things Done, commend this kind of approach and encourage individuals to write down their chores, perform them immediately if they take less than two minutes, and schedule them in advance if they take more time.
Already, we put all of our faith in our devices to recall important details for us. Because of this, many of us are willing to hand over control of our private information to the companies that operate the apps that are installed on our mobile devices. These companies collect our data and then use it to provide us with information that is ever more compelling. This information is constantly being updated so that it can evoke stronger feelings of anger and resentment in us.
It’s almost as bad as taking drugs, considering that medicines don’t usually adapt their effects to the person who’s taking them (although there may be medications like that on the market that I’m not aware of). We put a lot of faith in our technology, and when it lets us down, we point the finger at the technology itself. However, the fact that it works as well as it does at all should be enough to amaze us. The desire is there to put our faith in the technology, but it’s possible that we shouldn’t.
Perhaps we ought to be more skeptical of the technology that is stealing our time and causing us to be less happy. This is because it is causing us to engage in activities that have no real value. According to a recent study, users of social media reported a significant boost in their overall satisfaction after they discontinued their use of social media.
There has been story after story that discusses how the communities of interest effect, which used to be such a positive force in connecting people who might not ever normally meet together to discuss shared issues and not feel as alone, has transformed into forums where humans’ hatred can spiral to a fever pitch.
In the end, we need to approach these technological marvels, which give the appearance of having made a significant positive impact on our environment, with a much more clinical and critical attitude. How can we be sure that future virtual assistants, when they propose a purchase based on our requirements rather than Amazon’s, have our best interests at heart?
Even while the disruption is both essential and unavoidable, our response to this tech should be more cautious. They are not here to save us; rather, they are here to serve us, and we should keep that in mind as we try to reclaim some of the humanity that they have taken from us.