To Resist or Not?

Reading: Klaus Schwab, 2016, The Fourth Industrial Revolution (World Economic Forum), pp.14-26, 47-50, 67-73, 91-104.

The main question I get when I read pieces like this, and start to envision some sort of media driven dystopia is whether I should resist or not? The developments in technology I mean. I think I’m caught in a place between two generations, between those who grew up without our currently technology and those who grew up completely immersed in it, and between two modes of thinking about technology; a cynical, condemning view and an embracing, excited one. Like complaining that smart phones are ruining our interpersonal connections, while simultaneously forming important networks through social media. Heavily wound up in this question of whether to resist, is the desire to make a distinction between the online world and the offline one, the “real” and the “not real”. I wonder what impact making this attempting to make this distinction has on me?

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I also was really interested in what influence the predictive power of the algorithm will have over human behavior and the amount of trust we may come to place in it. I hadn’t really conceptualized the way I’m exposed to the workings of the algorithm, such as to make predictions for what I should view on YouTube or Ads I might be interested in on Facebook, and the fact that it is essentially a mathematical process or set of rules. In particular I was thinking about the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy and if the wiring of our brains will come to mimic such mathematical predictions.

There was a quote within the reading that claiming with the current state of media consumptions we are “overwhelmed and on overdrive”. I was talking about this the other day, about how I constantly need to be ticking off things on a “To Do List’ and how the abundance of apps on my phone with notifications to check, alarms to set, images to sort offers me a system that rewards me with short bursts of accomplishment and fulfillment. I become so addicted to this rewards cycle that I often become completely immersed in my phone, flicking quickly between apps, and can feel less accomplished if I’m not doing more than one task at once. As discussed in the reading Nicholas Carr the net is a “a machine geared for dividing our attention. Frequent interruptions scatter our thoughts, weaken our memory, and make us tense and anxious.”

I don’t know if I am so easy to demonize the iPhone, or social media or not unplugging out of a desire to be counterculture or because I honestly fear the negative impact it is having on me. One thing I do believe though is that I will be left behind in some sense of the phrase if I don’t embrace it.

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