The Age of the Interconnected Society
I remember a time when the internet was a place to work. You were either researching stuff or uploading the results of the stuff you researched. It wasn’t a “fun” place, it wasn’t chic nor sexy. The worldwide web was just that, a platform for communicating with your peers in ways that never existed before, gone were the days of snail mail and penpals. You could now correspond at the speed of light and that was only the beginning.
Fast forward to the year 2016. The information superhighway is now flowing with vast amounts of digital traffic. The floodgates were opened and the internet is now (or should be) commonplace in every community. Now we can do practically anything on the web. If a person so chose they could literally never leave the comfort of their own home and still be able to survive in our connected world. Telecommuting has become the norm for many individuals and because of the digitization of currency almost any product or service can be acquired from behind a monitor and keyboard, a tablet, or even a watch. Digital assistants are within earshot, waiting for your verbal command to provide you with a variety of services that range from playing the latest headlines to placing orders on your favorite shopping site. If you’re adventurous you even have the ability to “Automate” your home to the point where you can lock the doors, turn off the lights and play your favorite sleepytime music all without having to lift a single finger.
“I am someone that loosely fits the description of an introvert. On one hand I embrace the digital lifestyle but on the other I will never have to leave my comfort zone”
Is this the future that was envisioned by Asimov and his ilk? When I watched the Jetsons as a little kid I saw a different side of humanity. One where people did not need to depend on each other anymore. The service industry became obsolete, almost every need or want could be satisfied by a machine. We no longer needed each other! I am someone that loosely fits the description of an introvert. On one hand I embrace the digital lifestyle but on the other I will never have to leave my comfort zone. The few social skills that I’ve built up over the years will never be honed. I mean, yeah, there’s Facebook or Twitter, or even Pinterest if your into that stuff, but these cannot and will never replace face to face human interaction. The subtlety of seeing someone’s expression change when you tell them about that new show on Netflix that you’re now hooked on, or reading the slight nuances in their body language as they react to the things that you’re saying.
Can emotions effectively be transmitted across a digital medium, with the proliferation of AI and Virtual Reality, will the art of person to person communication be relegated to being a chapter in a history textbook. I don’t think anyone has the answers to these questions but based on the direction we’re heading in as a species I think that the potential impact of the digital age needs to be studied and documented so that in the event that humans may not be defined as such anymore we have something to fall back on. I personally like the breakthroughs that are taking place in Technosphere and embrace these changes with open arms but how far will technology take us and what cost. Only time will tell.