A 23 year old's rant on Tech. curious on what you think friends :)

Today it is September 6th, 2019. And you know what? I demand more from my technology.

Why is it that our latest innovations are being used to exploit us, rather than enhance us? We need to do whatever we can in our power, to have our technology enhance the things that really matter. To enhance love, our health, our relationships, our work, our education, etc… The one area that particularly bugs me is the realm of so-called social media, which has so much potential and is being used as a Skinner behaviorist invention. To sway the crowds to buy a particular product, while compiling more and more personal data on us. And I sit back and wonder… what the hell can I do to help? Yes, I will go on long philosophical rants on these platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and how they are dehumanizing us… but I am sick of being a pessimist on this topic.

I have recently been fascinated by the readings of Books such as Peter Diamandis “Abundance” and Walter Issacson’s “The Innovators”. These books represent a vision of immense human progress and how all this tech enhances us. It is almost as if our latest innovations and tech can be used really quite effectively… it is just a matter if we have the courage to sway against the crowd and start a divergent lifestyle.

^^^the point above is what draws me towards you guys. A group that recognizes this technological bind that we have placed ourselves in and a group that recognizes the true potential in being able to enhance all of our lives with our latest inventions.

Today, I am downloading my latest required updated for my IPhone. An OS upgrade, and every time one of these occurs, I try my hardest to envision that it is an OS update for my life. As a part of this life upgrade, I want to do whatever I can in my power to help join this amazing cause, in building more humane tech. I am just sick of seeing so many people wasting away their productive energies swiping away on their smartphones. Let’s put the necessary pressure on Big tech and demand products that enhance our ACTUAL lives not our VIRTUAL lives.

Curious on where everyone’s head is at with this topic and if you have any ideas on where or how I can help… I would greatly appreciate it :slight_smile:

Cheers,

AB

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Amen. I am there with you. I am 34 and grew up with technology. As a young teen, I was a member of “open diary” community, one of the first social networks. I was pretty introverted at the time and I made friends and felt genuinely connected to people. There were no photos, no “sharing” capabilities, no endless scrolling feeds. The people or accounts that mattered to me, well, I kept up with them because I cared what was being said, and felt like I had a relationship with them. Posts were usually pretty long and thoughtful. I never remember any trolls or mean people (although I’m sure there were some).

I got a Facebook account in my freshmen year of college. I remember several years later, when other people were “allowed” in… Now all of a sudden my parents, relatives, and everyone else had view into my life. I didnt like it.

I’ve been working in digital marketing for nearly a decade now, and after learning how digital ads and algorithms work, it really makes me sad. I thought I would feel better doing marketing work for a non-profit. I felt like so much of marketing is manipulating people through behavioral conditioning, and it felt wrong.

It started to become obvious that people use their phones to escape. I had a job where we had a shared lunch area, and there would literally be 15 people, all heads down, scrolling through their Facebook feed, stopping every now and then to make some rude comment about someone’s drama or tacky outfit. I started to see myself falling into the same pattern, so I did an experiment.

I replaced my Facebook icon on my home screen, with a meditation app. I cant tell you how many times I found myself unlocking, swiping left twice to my screen, and clicking on the bottom right icon. It was so unconscious, pure muscle memory. But this time, I would find myself in my meditation app :slight_smile: It was enough to get my curiosity going. I have struggled with some intense mental health issues, and I am determined to find or create technology that will help people like me, rather than drag us down.

I am in between jobs now, and so excited to learn of this movement and hear that I am not alone in my thoughts. I knew y’all were out here!!

I am hopeful that we can be the change. Here are the boundaries I have personally put on myself in Regards to phone time.

-do not check my email before breakfast
-respond to texts at one time a day (when possible, I am actually t r y I n g to work on an app to help with this)
-never have my phone out at mealtime, or when I am with friends
-have no audible notifications
-at bus stops, standing in line, or waiting in public somewhere, dont get on my phone - look around and attempt to make eye contact with people and smile (this seems to be the most depressing one- it’s amazing how difficult this is)
-when I have a ‘task’ (listing baby clothes on poshmark, for example, or finding a recipe on pinterest) I set a timer. ThIS HELPS SO MUCH! It stresses me out to get sucked into endless scrolling feeds)

Anyway, I could write about this all day, but it is really nice outside so I am going for a walk, and getting g off my phone for now.

Thanks for posting AB, I am excited to check out the books you recommended. “Program or be programmed” is one that I like.

Have a great weekend!
JM

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I agree with you that technology should be focused on helping us achieve our goals. 100% user controlled. Anything else is not in our best interest. As we are moving more towards always on, all-day interfaces, maintaining well-being and user focus is more important than ever.

We are working on a new interface and software that has this paradigm at it’s core.
If interested check it at https://sentienhq.com. We are always looking for driven people with the right motivation, so if you want to help, drop me a DM.

If interested in reading more on man-technology interaction / augmentation you might be interested in watching Alan Kay interview or his presentation at YC Startup School as well as some of Licklider’s work. And possibly The Mother of all Demos as an inspiration.

Cheers, Imrich

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Happy to hear you meditate JM! I swear this is one of the main driver of me being more aware of the amount of individuals staring at their phones… completely unaware of the present moment at the time.

I also really enjoy the boundaries that you have set yourself. I feel as if I could definitely learn a thing or two from this advice. One thing that I enjoy doing with a group of friends while out to dinner is to place all of our phones in the middle stacked on top of one another. It is almost symbolic in a way.

There is something about this pivotal topic that leads me to want to write about it/speak about it at all times just like yourself! This truly is relieving hearing someone else who feels the same in regards to this. “Program or be programmed” who is this book by? I would love to dive deeper as the title alone has me intrigued.

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I’m also trying to change course on my career. I want to help people make the most out of tech with a real positive impact on their lives. It is not an easy task. But I believe there are a lot of fantastic tech products and services out there, and not everything is a Black Mirror episode.

I also have a small blog: https://www.calmtech.com.br/blog/categories/english?lang=en Anyone can signup for free. :slight_smile: Yes, suggestions are very welcomed!

I wish you all the best!

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I really appreciate your passion, which clearly comes out. The more people who witness the gap between what we should be capable of doing and what we have can only be a good thing.

One thing also struck me though:

An OS upgrade, and every time one of these occurs, I try my hardest to envision that it is an OS update for my life.

It’s this “technology will save us narrative” that does concern me, however. Many of our problems are social, and tech has been great at scaling what it scales but failing miserably at problems of society, connectedness, the mental health of belonging, etc.

With so much technology in our lives, there can often be a quick-trigger mentality to throw tech at a problem – to package it and distribute it as an app – that leads us astray when the solution isn’t in the technology but in our own human “operating systems” as they were. Wetware isn’t sexy in our tech- and media-saturated world, even if we are seeing surging interest in things like meditation and looking in our hearts for our purpose. (And yet there are people who are even appifying those things as if we’ve learned nothing at all!)

Don’t forget your human side. Don’t outsource all your will, compassion and human capacity to some third party’s new gadget to save the day like some fictitious digital cavalry. It all starts with the self, and what’s inside you. And a lot of tech just creates a distractive veneer to keep us from ever going there and addressing the core questions we need to ask of ourselves.

As someone who worked for Peter Diamandis for nearly three years, the one criticism I always had was the belief that the human side of technological disruption was just QED … the boring messy human stuff that would just figure itself out while technical progress marches on and delivers an exponential promised land. Facts are that it’s a lot more about our knowing and deliberate humanness first and foremost. If that human foundation isn’t right, any tech we use to build on top of it is merely a house of cards.

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Welcome! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I think the best thing you can do to get into this topic is study the social and economic systems that led up to this situation. Learn about the laws that apply in your area to the technology you use. If you’re European, learn about the GDPR. If you’re American, learn about Section 230. Likewise the history of Google and Facebook will send you into the history of digital ads.

Sadly many people who speak on this issue are only informed on technical matters. Not social or historical matters. For example, many of the techies ready to “disrupt” industries “bloated” with regulation do not understand the reason for the regulations they want to cancel out. Maybe there is a good reason, maybe not. They don’t know and don’t even care to find out. They just want to be part of the next Uber and get rich. Or they are power hungry and want to make rules for the whole world to follow. Or they are good people but just not informed enough.

All technical systems are created and supported by social systems. Understand that and you will be able to do a lot more to help people than write code. All the best!

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I have almost all of those same perimeters for myself with technology! Except for the setting a timer one…such a good idea! I loved your comments and agree 100%. Any ideas on how we can get the test of our neighbors to see this too!!!

Hello,
A wonderful piece of commentary and very well put! It’s always heartening to come across something like this––there is hope!

Laurence

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I so totally agree with what you’re saying. It’s a sad thing when young people sit at a table with friends, and spend more time using their thumbs and staring at those little screens, than they do engaging with the person next to them. … I do think there’s an answer to it, but it may come from the next generation, and from people like you.

On the subject of “social media,” I work for a platform that at least encourages meaningful engagement and collaboration online, and one that protects its users privacy. Check out Idka.com and let me know if you have questions.

Thanks for the very thoughtful and important post.

  • Elizabeth
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