Are We All Just Living in a Digital World?
The emergence of technology in everyday life has grown a huge amount over the past ten to twenty years. Innovation is good; it encourages humans to think beyond their world and seek new possibilities, but, has the technology explosion we are all living in made us better or worse? Are our children looking at a world of endless possibilities, or are they all just going to be online like a scary version of The Matrix?
One of the biggest explosions on the technology scene was the cell phone. For a whole generation of children, they no longer needed to walk to the nearest pay phone and pay with actual money. Now, they can not only call someone, but they can also see them from across the world. They can also play games, send text messages and even interact with each other on messenger from the next street. However, as amazing and advanced as cell phones are, maybe they are starting to replace genuine human interaction. Everywhere you go, everyone is looking down at the glowing object in their hands. No sooner have they a few seconds spare, then they whip out their phone and check their social media status. Have smartphones started to take away the need to interact with a human being in person? Even some coffee shops are now letting customers order and pay for their drink online before they get there. All they need to do then is pick it up and walk away; they don’t even have to say good morning.
A global online phenomenon, social media has erupted on the scene and firmly settled itself in the everyday activities of its users. Now, no matter what is going on in your life, you can share it instantly with billions of people all over the world, even those you don’t even know. It also means you can now sit there and view anyone’s social media feed and see into their lives. That is because social media has become the garden fence or the local bar in that you can hear the gossip of anyone you care to just by listening in to the conversation. Even though there are a vast number of people looking in, it doesn’t stop people from posting the most intimate things about their daily lives. In many ways, it is the real-life version of the soap opera that has become so popular or the real-life documentaries showing people who are destitute on the streets. However, social media has also shown its dark side as a way to harass and bully people, never more so than with kids at school. Now, bullying isn’t just restricted to the day at school, it continues in the social media world, leaving those effected seeming like there is nowhere to go. The problem is that because these bullies can hide behind their phones, their torment can reign unthrottled.
The world of computer games is huge all over the world, with millions of people all taking part in just one online game. It has led game makers to spend as much creating a game as movie studios spend on a blockbuster movie, if not more. In fact, many Hollywood actors have now seen this as another avenue to their acting talents, lending their voices and their digital likeness to many games. Even in this environment, there is stiff competition, the three big console manufacturers Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo spend millions trying to win over gamers to their consoles. Meanwhile, other gamers wouldn’t touch a console, preferring the ‘pure’ gaming experience you can get from a PC. All of this work and money spent trying to give people a way to escape their daily lives. For a few hours, they can become anyone or anything they like, from a World War Two hero to a Jedi Knight. However, has the world we live in now become so dull and boring that the younger generation needs to seek other excitement? Does the virtual world have more to offer people than the real world? For many people, there is still the thrill of interaction and suspense at activities like the Boston Escape Room, where you all have to work together to solve clues. However, for some, it’s a natural progression from the technology of the past to that of the future. Whereas many years ago, television was the big escape in people’s homes, it has now started to be overtaken by computer games. Still one step further is the virtual reality world, where gamers can now feel as though they are truly part of the action.
For many, their mobile phones equate to a major part of their life; it isn’t that they have their contacts or their messages in there, they might even have their credit cards and banking details stored on them. These phones are truly becoming smart, but this intelligence is now making its way into our homes. With the arrival home hubs like the Amazon Alexia and the Google Home, people are now starting to control their homes with nothing more than their voice. Like something out of Star Trek, you can now ask your home hub to play your favorite music or order you a takeaway. They can also link up to your lights, boiler and your kitchen appliances to allow you to control just about anything. The benefits of these types of a home hub for elderly or housebound people is immense, but, it has done far more than just that, it has meant that for many things, you don’t even need to get out of your chair. It is an evolutionary step. First, there were televisions you need to turn over by hand, then came remote controls, and now voice commands. Where will it lead to next? Perhaps thought control, so you don’t even need to speak?
With so much going on in the world, it is time everyone tried to look up from their phones and see the world around them.
No, we’re not yet able to see robots walk our dogs or see complex robotic organism working at a nuclear facility, but we’re not in the Stone Age either. Unfortunately, people have unrealistic expectations when it comes to Artificial Intelligence and easily get pessimistic when these expectations aren’t met.
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