The state of our modern digital landscape has long been characterized as “the information age,” which is extremely appropriate. Never before have we had such accessibility to information, nor has it ever been as easy to create it. Perhaps what really defines it as an age at all is that commerce, community and social change are largely driven by digital information. As a communications tool, this technology has matured unbelievably fast. That’s not a problem – but it does present one.
Digital tech, as it is, was built to be a communications platform, and to that end it is very, very mature. That’s why all of our technology is always talking to us. On average, we might check our phone today between 100 and 150 times to respond to a notification. We need that many alerts considering that our society creates about 2.5 exabytes of information every day.
And that’s the problem we face. Not only are we communicating with each other, but all of our devices are, too.
Philosopher and mathematician Alfred North Whitehead said that, “Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.” Contrary to that, the digital technology in our daily lives is disruptive by design and adds to our cognitive load. We are always thinking about it and distracted by some beep, buzz or flashing light. As a result, our technology is advancing faster than people, making it the master race in our civilization. For us to keep up, we are forced to also become technology, and as a result are a culture of robots. When in Rome.
It’s time for our robots to do robot work and for people to get back to being human.
For example, by creating an “ecosystem of information,” we can use quantified-self data and Internet of Things monitoring to provide meals or medicines in tune to the seasons of an individual, a household or a community. A meal balanced to a particular glycemic index can be delivered to a diabetic hours before he suffers an insulin dip or spike. In much the way that a tree bears fruit in season, the only notification he’d need would be a smell of warm food and a rumbling stomach. The same technologies that trigger more than100 notifications a day can work in silence and be directed not into alerts, but rather into automated actions for the benefit of everyone in the information ecosystem.
When basic needs are served through automation, and human attention is focused undistracted by notifications or the distress of basic survival, civilization can progress as Whitehead described. Artificial Intelligence won’t take our jobs. It will give us time to invent better jobs! We would do less thinking and more imagining in a digital Garden of Eden, where our basic needs bloom as we need to harvest them This would occur because we would notify it, instead of it notifying us. The most excellent part is that this is not the future. It is available in the present with the technologies and projects I am currently working on.
Devon Scott is founder and CEO of Blue Fission, LLC, a tech consultancy in Wilmington, N.C. Blue Fission focuses on strategizing digital technology decisions for startups and particularly enjoys working with health and wellness industries. To learn more about Blue Fission LLC, go to http://bluefission.com or call (910) 644-0977.
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