How Much Technology Is Too Much Technology?

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There are numerous visions of what our hyper-related future may appear to be. We’re packaged numerous variants on the shiny-techie-future imaginative and prescient theme every single day as advertising departments lay it on thick to attempt to place gloss on their newest product and stressed grease on the wheels of consumption.

Factor is, these tales of shiny futures usually are not actually that fascinating. Given they're artless fictions. What’s much more fascinating is how know-how is being utilized within the right here and now — and the way it’s already interacting with and impacting social buildings. And in the event you take a look at these inform-story indicators then positive it’s attainable to extrapolate some potential futures — a few of which actually aren’t very fairly in any respect.

Technology changing people is one recurrent theme. We will argue about what number of jobs are being destroyed by know-how. However that’s type of lacking the purpose. Provided that know-how is a software that folks can apply in numerous methods, the quantity and sort of human jobs that get changed will, on the finish of the day, be decided by us, not by the know-how.

Or, extra doubtless, by the businesses that apply know-how at scale. Look, for instance, at supermarkets and large field retailers changing a number of (human) take a look at operators with ranks of self-service machines — with maybe one solitary human overseer standing silently off to the aspect.

Or Uber recruiting a whole college robotics division to attempt to speed up the event of driverless automobiles. As a result of robots can’t protest a dwindling income share. As a result of robots don’t get a income share.

However who needs to stay in a future the place each bodily store (if certainly there are any in such a know-how-maximized state of affairs) is a self-service warehouse the place the atoms within the drear air stir solely to synthesized thank-yous spat from cash-harvesting machines, suffixed by the rustle of a departing plastic bag — hooked up to a different silent human.

Positive, if all you consider are revenue margins you gained’t discover any worth within the seasonal tapestry of face-to-face human communication. Or the variable elbow grease of human labour. You’ll search to edit it out as an unpredictable inefficiency. However what occurs to society once we commerce an individual for a button press? Or a human being for a supply drone?

What occurs once we begin to view each interplay as merely a quantifiable string of greenback indicators — permitting ‘much less human’ to imply the identical as ‘decrease value’?

We as people — and as a society — are additionally decreased. Lowered in character, color, tradition, communication, cohesion. There’s no scarcity of collateral injury for those who extrapolate a tech-fueled future that thinks solely of maximizing revenue margins. So why can we so simply glimpse that attainable future? Certainly, why can we hold sketching such dystopic situations? Why can we appear satisfied know-how has to seize and management and do every thing — as if we people are powerless to decide on the way to use our personal instruments?

As higher minds than mine have identified, people are, at base, social creatures, but we're vulnerable to falling for trivial tips that may promote us an alternative to the social connection we usually crave. Emollient providers that proffer a tech-sanitized workaround for our uncooked, emotionally fretted edges. So positive it’s not all the time corporations hammering the shiny know-how wedge between real human interactions. Undoubtedly, we do that to ourselves too.

Albeit corporations know our weaknesses, and search to take advantage of them. They all the time have. Technology simply makes that type of exploitation insanely scaleable.

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Maybe mass surveillance — a tech-powered dystopia we live by means of proper right here, proper now — is just not simply an enormous trampling of our human rights, but in addition an enormous pink flag reminding humanity of the significance of moderating our consumptive impulses.

As a result of in addition to being social creatures, we're all-too-straightforward addicts. We will’t get sufficient of an excellent factor. We don’t all the time know when to cease. Typically we have to make ourselves actually, actually sick earlier than we may be compelled to vary our methods. If we study there’s a button we will push to get a deal with, we’ll push it and push it and push it. And hold pushing it. Our current tense world-view can be made to shrink to suit a button press. Or a social network.

Level is, just a little know-how is superb. However all know-how, on a regular basis is dystopia. And strutting and fretting our whole lives digitally is a discount of the wealthy prospects of life past the algorithm. Even because the more and more complete digital footprints we generate are additionally, clearly, a method too tempting repository for governments and corporations to disregard — and they also do the other: carry, retailer and manipulate the substance of our digital lives at will.

Perhaps the suitable response to being systematically dehumanized by huge know-how-powered knowledge-harvesting infrastructures is to behave just a little extra human, be just a little much less tech obsessed. You realize — purchase a guide from a second-hand bookshop. Pay with money. Stroll down an unfamiliar road. Order a drink in a spot you didn’t discover beforehand on Foursquare. Speak to a stranger you didn’t match with on Tinder. Depart your phone in your pocket — or higher nonetheless, at residence. Unfold a bit of paper and breathe.

Digital actuality? It will possibly by no means be a fraction as fascinating as actual, lived, precise actuality the place chaotic risk is threaded via each undesigned second — if solely you're taking the time to carry your eyes off the screen and go searching you.

And positive, the GooglesAlphabets and Amazons will promise to ‘engineer serendipity’. Or say they will transmute our collective behaviors right into a predictive extrapolation they’ll declare resembles telepathy — in a bid to ship you the factor you’re after earlier than you even thought to need it. In fact they'll. As a result of they actually need to have the ability to do that. It’s the holy grail of commerce.

If they will digitally steer or synthesize a proto human intention earlier than it’s develop into a totally shaped thought chain-linked to a assured transaction they get to win the cash-makers’ neverending jackpot and giggle all the best way to the financial institution — till the final neon mild winks out within the Nevada desert.

Extra realistically the enormous knowledge miners of our lives will make algorithms that phase collective human conduct into generalized buckets and apply these stencils over people, blurring our element within the course of. As a result of you'll be able to’t summary infinite selection. You'll be able to’t include multitudes. You possibly can’t synthesize all of the shifting shades that may ever be perceived.

And so the strategy of management makes an attempt to make use of ubiquitous know-how to disrupt our consideration so we overlook to assume for ourselves.

Undesigned existence is the actual magic. And ‘engineered serendipity’ is each an oxymoron and a dictatorship of the dreary; a notion created by a confederation of backside-line bores who've someway attained much more social management than their pedestrian focus on revenue margins ought to ever have afforded them.

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If all you’re allowed to be or do or know is what’s predetermined by aggregated behavioral patterns parsed by algorithms you may as properly be dwelling in a medieval monastery — simply with out the vaulted ceiling of thriller that exalted such a prior pre-outlined existence.

Keep in mind: the algorithm is just not God. It’s by no means been omniscient, and it by no means can be. The algorithm is only a device for optimization. And more often than not it’s the slave of commerce.

Positive, you can consider know-how as a lidless eye — given the way it tends to watch and report what we do. However ceaseless surveillance is just not a synonym for supernatural. It’s know-how utilized to constrain and scale back; to show the artistic chaos of risk right into a predictable pipeline that may be managed or monetized. When you assume that feels like magic you in all probability have to recalibrate your inside lens.


So actually, as we use and form know-how instruments and providers, we the individuals making the tech and shopping for the tech and dwelling with the tech have to sharpen our focus on what’s actually necessary. And what’s actually true. A ‘shiny, hyper-related future’ is meaningless if we don’t truly need to stay in it. If we as people threaded inside the material of society find yourself feeling much less related to one another, extra dehumanized by the instruments we use then why are we shopping for into the advertising fiction? What’s in it for us? What’s in it for society as a cohesive entire?

The fiction of the shiny sci-fi future is repackaged and bought to us repeatedly to attempt to herd us in the direction of some close to time period business aim. However what’s the precise, lived actuality of those advertising fictions? Fewer human jobs and extra ephemeral employment that rebrands social precariousness as ‘selection’ and ‘flexibility’? Fewer precise human interactions and extra synthesized, packaged substitutes that feed off the sense of isolation and dissatisfaction their (over)use cultivates?

Does that sound like a good commerce? In change for granting a free move to a military of digital middlemen to mediate increasingly features of our lives by way of their shiny layers we get what — delicate diversion and marginal comfort? Cat GIFs on Fb and pizza dropping from the sky on the push of a drone-summoning button? Are we actually so simply infantalized? Can our inside lives be so cheaply purchased?

Factor is, it doesn’t should be know-how or individuals. It’s attainable to think about a future the place know-how works FOR individuals. The place unchecked software is just not consuming the world however is utilized selectively, by societies, as a device to assist tighten and reinforce the jointed scaffolding of actual-world communities. To assist construct precise connections, not devalue actual-world social buildings to attempt to exchange them with mediated digital options.

However meaning recognizing when it’s essential to average the trajectory of a platform, say, or form algorithmic purposes with individuals-targeted regulation to make sure useful social buildings aren’t ripped out or ripped aside by the detached pursuits of company accountancy. And — as particular person customers of know-how — recognizing when it’s time to go away your phone alone for a bit and speak to the individuals round you.

If we will discover the appropriate stability between know-how and society, it’s attainable to think about many good issues being created by people utilizing ever extra refined instruments. However attaining that stability requires steady sweating toil to outline society’s purple strains — and the self-discipline to not be distracted or swayed by the superficial sheen of shiny issues.

Onerous work for positive, however the sort of socially engaged exercise that yields genuinely satisfying rewards — and advantages the various, not the few.

Source : TechCrunch