There is so much great information being posted and discussed here on the CHT Forum. As I’ve been parsing through the various topics of discussion, I have become curious as to what are the greatest concerns when it comes to technology use?
Are you concerned specifically with losing communication and listening skills/how we interact with one another?
Are you concerned with being manipulated through technology by large tech companies and developing better technological design to avoid this?
Are you concerned with the psychological effects that technology is having on our youth?
Are you concerned with an over-reliance on technology? I recently wrote an article about this and I’m very interested in how we’ve become so dependent on our phones and the internet.
Let me know what you think. I understand all of these are concerns, as many of them have already been mentioned, but I wonder if some of your concerns are greater than others.
I’m concerned about the dehumanizing power of technology: how it alters our relationships with Mother Earth, animals, others (a good example is posting life-changing events on Facebook before telling loved ones about them), and ourselves.
One article on Medium advised young people (not just celebrities) to be themselves when developing their “brand.” Does that come before maturing, having life experiences, developing wisdom in love? How can you “be yourself” before those things have happened?
Having said that, I want to post this example of how technology can also be used to enhance our sensory apparatus and deepen our understanding of ourselves and our world.
Thanks for your response, Pat! I do believe relationships is the key concern. Nancy Colier in her book, The Power Of Off calls it “relational technology”- social media, e-mail, gaming, those ways we interact with each other in the online world is where the most concern seems to be at.
My main concern is how addictive technology has become. The addictiveness of tech is having an impact on all four concerns you listed:
Some addictive features – like Snapchat streaks – turn the act of communication itself into a mindless compulsion.
Many of the largest consumer internet/gaming companies rely on addictive user behavior to survive. As a result, they manipulate their users to stimulate addiction.
Addictive tech is clearly impacting young people. For example, several parents have told me that their children spend dozens of hours online each week. For many of them, this has caused problems ranging from poor academic performance to unhealthy weight gain.
By definition, our addiction to technology involves an over-reliance on it.
I think my concerns can be boiled down to a cross between points #2 and #4. In other words: “we are over-reliant on technology because we are being manipulated by tech companies.” I want to do something to stop this.
I am most worried about our almost complete loss of privacy, the sea of personal information on us that is out in the wild, and how this can be abused by anyone, ranging from tech monopolies, autocratic governments, and powers that are out to undermine freedom and democracy.
The unprecedented tech revolution - which has merely just started - together with failure of prevailing economic models (a root cause of most problems, e.g. increasing wealth inequality, large-scale environmental destruction), are the biggest danger to our society and make the CHT mission most urgent and pressing!
To use Tristan Harris’ own words we are here to “help avoid civic breakdown and prevent future wars”.
This then I consider most important issue to tackle, more so than other aspects mentioned above, which are just side-effects that we should also deal with along the way.
A positive and bright future, where we apply tech in spectacular, beautiful and beneficial ways is very well possible, but only when many more people drop their wait-and-see approach and actively help tip the scale in the right direction again…
It’s interesting trying to navigate the world of developing humane tech and also distinguishing how much control over the situation we, as individuals, have over our consumption/use. Society is starting to veer into this vain where it is absolutely essential to always be connected. We need to figure out a way to side-step that, or at the very least be connected in a better way.
I have so many concerns - the use of cognitive science and social science research to make tech highly addictive, the way it is contributing to our loss of real world social connections, which are essential to our well being as humans - but I’d say my biggest single concern is the way that ‘social media’ (remarkable euphemism) enables the use of bots to deepen divisions in our society - intentionally targeting Americans by driving wedges where we’re vulnerable - our societal ‘attack surfaces’ as Tim Snyder (On Tyranny, The Path to Unfreedom) describes them - social and economic inequality and race.
Very true! It’s amazing how social media networks have the power to shift societal behavior and attitudes. It’s truly changing the way we interact with one another and I wonder what that means as we want to try to come together.
I am very concerned with the effects of technology on our ability to learn and focus. The book The Shallows documents the detrimental effect of modern technology on our brain function and our ability to concentrate. This is a problem for all ages, not just youth, although it may be more difficult to correct in young people because they never learned the other way.
I am thinking of the big picture why we have these kind of issues about technology. Monopoly really is the main issue here.Monopolistic company can do anything they want because consumers or users has no choice.Basically they can give us inferior product and services as long as their bottomline is safe. They don’t have much incentive to innovate and improved products and sevices because of lack of competition. Tech monopolies are really bad for the consumers/users. What we need is competition. That give us greater selection/altenatives and better products and services that aligned with our interest.
Interesting points, Mark. You may be interested in chatting with @Tessa on this topic. She does a lot of work looking at technology and the issues with it being controlled by big companies. Thanks for your comment!
My greatest concern with technology is that a nomadic on-the-go rootlessness lifestyle will be the only affordable and acceptable norm for people. On the fly lives will replace the norm of static living and physical content. Today, the few of us who know about being an actual employee with a predictable schedule know that companies have no incentive to employees when gig workers or temps can do what we did. People are messy and make mistakes. Companies in big tech have more and more removed the need for people to handle or repair or organize anything.
Stability of many social systems is undermined from journalism to home ownership to family and community. At first you think hey, great, we’re free to be on the run going around being users of this new data oriented world. It’s free now! But will it always be? We may run out of ways to keep offsetting more people each time another disruptive way to remove people from the equation happens.
Once they’re gone they’re gone. It could mean there will be no excuse for university campus, libraries, corporate structure, contract employment, or other centering locations or owned private spaces or private copies of content. Already, in my field, public libraries, we are reducing the number of copies of actual books, CD’s and DVD’s and increasing copies of downloadable or streaming content services to members.
I haven’t quite fit it all into a coherent argument but-- if ownership/leasing of anything, whether it’s books, record albums, houses, or contracts that give you the upper hand, is seen as reserved for a privileged few, there’s no way to bridge a gap back to the other way. Once the sunk costs are evaluated they’re not coming back. It’s not clear that there is a chicken and egg or egg and chicken here. I just see it as bad to create this acceptable path to rootlessness.
You make some interesting points and I’m intrigued by your perspective. I never really thought about how technology truly is fracturing the stability of our social systems and it makes complete sense. I do wonder what these means for the social fabric of our society. In some ways, I’m sure it comes with some good, but, as you highlighted, many of us aren’t looking into the potentially disastrous negatives.
Thank you for sharing your talk. A lot of insight information in there. The concept of privacy being gone is a terrifying one, yet very realistic as we look at our world today. I looked up your company, Energized Work, and will be excited to hear more from you!