As human beings, we’d like to believe that the genuine real value of our existence is our humanity, yet with the booming technology surrounding us, infiltrating our daily lives; it may make one wonder, if we will eventually lose what makes us human. This begs to question how far technology is willing to go, and will it one day destroy what should be cherished, our humanity. We’ve come so far, possibly too far, and it looks doubtful that we can ever go back to modest times without devastation, and would we ever want to?
It seems like every other month a newer, better, faster computer is ready for the market, or what about cell phones, now there is a device that, if we’re honest with ourselves, has completely taken over our lives; we feel totally lost without that little gadget, in particular an iPhone or a Blackberry, because it practically holds our whole lives in its tiny memory card, from the address book to turning off the lights on the Christmas tree. These apparatuses are but few of the many contraptions available to purchase for those of us who can afford them to make our lives “fuller”, move quicker, easier and, let’s throw in, happier, or so we think and like to believe.
For example, as devastating and frustrating bad weather can be, there’s both humor and regret to be found in the fact that when the power is out, we can’t function. Okay, we can handle it for a day, maybe two, but if the power is still out on the third day, things begin to get dicey and tempers begin to flicker and ultimately flare in discontent. Sure, some computers have mega batteries, which cost a small fortune, and will still at some point run out of juice. Generators can help, but mostly people use those for more essential needs, such as for heat or air conditioning or refrigeration and water heating or cooking. They can’t run a complete household 24/7. Cell phones will either be conserved by not being used or used very little, or they will run their batteries down and are useless until the power is back on to be charged. In other words, entertainment is pretty much down and out for the count, and that makes for not so happy campers. Most of us haven’t a clue anymore how to survive without our technological innovations that make our lives so much more convenient and unproblematic.
Unfortunately, this may just be the tip of the perpetual “iceberg”, and the dependency of human beings on technology is actually somewhat disturbing. Though, as research would have one believe, by the year 2020 “emerging computer technologies will change our lives for the better”, but the “key” will be that we as humans “retain control of decision making processes”. There’s a scary thought; makes one think of those sci-fi movies of long ago that don’t seem so otherworldly anymore. Though, in all honesty, certain nations have been developing and may have successfully attained means of mind control, but one would like to think that it would not be intended for the ordinary Joe. Nevertheless, it’s something no one- or thing should have the authority, much less the right, to be so empowered to bring about.
According to ScienceDaily in an article dated April 4, 2008, “By 2020, we will still be reading paper books and magazines, but we’ll also be using paper-like digital screens to distribute content. For example, “paper” used in books and magazines may be digitized on foldable screens we can put in our pockets; and our clothing may be capable of performing health diagnostics. Cheap and easily accessed digital storage will allow consumers to electronically record and store more aspects of their lives; letting them share information and interact with people across the globe. This hyper-connectivity liberates us from fixed telephone lines, desks and offices, while advances in robotics develop the computer’s ability to learn and make decisions.” Though obviously, “The interaction between humans and computers is evolving into a complex ecosystem where small changes can have far-reaching consequences. While new interfaces and hyper-connectivity mean we are increasingly mobile, we can see that they are blurring the line between work and personal space.”
In a report, titled “Being human: human computer interaction in the year 2020”, it is emphasized that without proper monitoring and assessment, it is possible that we, as individuals and as a whole, may no longer be in control of ourselves or the world around us, and that this prospectively places the computer in conflict with basic human values and concepts such as personal space, society, identity, independence, perception, intelligence and privacy.
This report, entailing different recommendations, maintains “The final recommendation is something towards which we should all aspire: by 2020 HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) will be able to design for and support differences in human value, irrespective of the economic means of those seeking those values. In this way, the future can be different and diverse because people want it to be.” Well, let’s fervently hope so…
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