As we continue to secede more and more of our memory and knowledge to technology, will we suffer from digital dementia? When Siri continues to remind us of our shopping list, dental appointments, and spouse’s birthday, will we lose touch with our humanity?
Increasingly, we live in a technologically-driven world in which the rate of change is growing exponentially. What happens when artificial intelligence becomes smarter than we are? What are the ethics and technological safeguards that prevent the creation of technology potentially more dangerous than nuclear bombs? A technologist as notable as Elon Musk has shared his concern over such a trend during a recently Charlie Rose interview.
Will knowledge become irrelevant in a 24/7, always on, connected world? I find myself leaning on Google more and more for basic knowledge. For example, Wikipedia is the most trusted source of information about Ebola. Granted, Wikipedia is still edited by humans, but what happens when it is not?
The self-driving automobile is here now. It will relieve us of the tedium but also the joy of driving. As government mandated self-drive vehicles take over the highways for safety reasons, we will be relegated to passengers. Our transportation needs will most likely be met by an Uber (not yet owned by Google) self-driving vehicle summoned based on our Google calendar (also owned by Google) to take us to our next appointment at our psychologist looking for our lost identity. Well, actually the psychologist will come to us via our connect mobility assistance device (formerly known as an automobile) and it will be an AI being (with civil rights) that will probe our subconscious using our digital data trail.
Before taking us too far into this dark dystopian world, let’s step back and see what options are open to us. We can become a Luddite and destroy the loom as was attempted during the industrial revolution. We can “opt out” and become irrelevant. Or we can choose consciously how we use our technology.
To choose, consciously, our use of technology, there are three important questions to ask ourselves. First, what problem are we trying to solve? Second, whose problem is it? Lastly, what other problems does this solution create? These questions are at the heart of our choices. Keep in mind that technology will continue to evolve. How it evolves will be a choice that will determine the future of human kind.
Take a technology break (or at least screen-free day) one day per week. Step back, disconnect, and remember your humanity. If you experience technology withdrawal, take a break and watch the movie: “The Robot and Frank.”