The title “man’s best friend” may no longer belong to the canine species. The technology breakthroughs have defined what it is to be human, and the boundaries of this definition are expanding beyond our horizon. The ability to use natural resources as tools has allowed our species to leave the rest of the animal kingdom far behind. Children and adults alike can be spotted in their electronic, hypnotic stupor on streets, at home, and even during social gatherings. Unlike Fido, technology has also brought man, isolation.
Browse through magazines or websites, listen to the incessant promotions on TV, or almost anywhere else, and you will find lures to purchase new gadgets, upgrade old ones, visualize the future of even more terrific gadgets and get excited about them, and put faith in their promise to make our lives better. Even our family and friends have become walking advertisements for the gadgets they love. And for those souls born after the first smartphone demanded our devotion, the world without this constant companion never existed.
To be sure, technology has earned our admiration and despite our addictive tendency toward it, it has brought legitimate help to many. Prosthetic limb is an example where it has given us hope. Modern hearing implants allow a deaf person to discover sound for the first time. Advanced robotics are making many things we do more efficient. There are even “companions” for the elderly that respond to touch, sound, and can even react to emotions.
The next few decades will redefine humanity all over again as nanotechnology integrates with biology, and smart, wearable devices cover our body. Mini computers the size of a watch have just been released to the public that will allow the capabilities of a personal computer on a device resembling a wristwatch. But for now, basic computers still have their use. Parents whose kids have moved out can keep in touch with them in ways that are much better than what used to be. It allows them to continue education in their senior years, and practice their golf games virtually. Technological innovations have also allowed complexity easier to accomplish. With each new discovery, our paradigm continues to shift. It is in these, and similar cases where technology has actually helped to alleviate human isolation.
Despite all this, there are clear signs that it has not only distanced us from our families, friends, and Fido, but also from ourselves. Take Internet dating for example. It has become a thriving business, and there is a good chance that it is because we can no longer spend time with people. In some cases, this is due to problems with self-image and the inability to interact with people directly. We would rather spend time with people through technology. Even the robotic companions for the elderly hide the fact that, in many cases, their family has abandoned them.
The mind-numbing pace of advancements happening today is just the tip of the iceberg. It is hard to fathom where the technology breakthroughs of the future will take us. Nevertheless, if the current trends are the signs of the inevitable future, man will need to learn to embrace isolation. From that perspective, perhaps all this is simply the training for the future of humans.
Opinion By Amit Singh