Intimate Technology Redefining Our Lives

 According to some, we are now at the historic threshold point in which the distance between technology and ourselves is rapidly decreasing. To cite an instance, the computer has already evolved from desktop to laptop to smartphone and soon it would be available in the form of computer glasses wherein through data mining, experts would be able to derive faster results. For example, Google now can detect flu pandemic faster than medical experts can. Market researchers are infact, relying more on emotion recognition technology to measure consumer choice rather than being dependent on statements made by those consumers. Here, we can safely say that we have ventured into a new phase in the information society, where information technology progressed to become more intimate in nature. We have let technology imbibe within us, between us, about us and just like us. This has infact led to technology to have knowledge about us and operate like us, mimicking various facets of individual behaviour.

Technology research has seen that these trends in technology development have paved way for more opportunities for growth especially in creative industries. However, intimate technology also has an undesirable effect wherein it sparks social and ethical questions, which touch upon fundamental rights, like right to privacy, property, to physical integrity, to have freedom of thought and conscience and even right to have a safe environment.

It is important to note that political and administrative handling of this intimate technology is still in its infancy – that too barring from its privacy issue. It is therefore, necessary for administrators, scientists, lawyers, futurists, ethicists and philosophers think about the meaning and consequences of the trend. This has grown to become a badly needed desire of individuals who do not wish to become opinionated based on this trend and maintain their rights to judgement.

Intimate Technology Redefining Our Lives

Technology within us, about us, between us

As per technology research, technology has long become part of our body; remember brain implants, biocultured heart valves or artificial balancing organs. Between us, technology has crept into lives through social media that allowed us to project ourselves to outside world, contact and communicate with others whenever needed. Technology thereby collects data about us which leads to certain “acceptable behaviour” in society and lastly, technology nowadays have started behaving just like us; they have attained human traits and exhibit smart responses with its outward appearances. To cite instances, currently available computer games are more realistic in nature and health apps always interact with your body to generate results while you are exercising or dieting.

New Wave of Technology

Technology is doing a whole lot of things by becoming miniature in size, improved computing skills and increasingly focusing on individuals. In short, today’s technology is smaller, shorter and more personalised.

To start off, as per technology research a revolution has taken place in the field of materials. In 1970s, materials could be manufactured only in a micro-level and now they can be manufactured a thousand times smaller, changing design concepts to one millionth of a millimetre. Technology also matured to digitally story large amounts of information about bodies and behaviour that would subsequently model and mimic. This led to development of nano technology which are thus interconnected in an upward spiral.

Research on technology revealed that both fields stimulated not just biology but all life sciences including cognitive neuroscience and genetics medicine. The insights generated in turn inspire equipment builders. Currently, four technological revolutions are growing simultaneously with each other, namely, nano, bio, information and cognitive technologies. This dynamic quartet is being referred to as NBIC, who is mainly responsible for new technological advancements which are intimate in nature.

Technology’s Decisive Moments

Some market experts are seeing these advancements as the turning point in our relationship with technology. The NBIC convergence is based on current technical ingenuity and growing interdependence between physical sciences – nano and information technology – and life sciences – both biotech and cognitive technology. The goal is same as what was in 1940s, understanding human behaviour and its social world, controlling, mimicking and analysing it. The difference is that we are much closer.

Machine becomes human and vice versa 

The entwining of physical and life sciences is reflected in two major technology trends: biology is becoming technology and technology is becoming biology. The first statement find its impression through genetically modified bulls, cloned sheep, cultured heart valves etc. where through which life is increasing seen to be reproducible. To cite an instance, IT-based technology research revealed techniques to influence brain processes, wherein deep brain stimulation reduced severe tremor in Parkinson’s disease.

The reverse trend of technology becoming biology is reflected through various artefacts that increasingly appear more life-like and seem imbued with human behaviour. To cite an instance, in France there are cash dispensers that recognise Dutch bankcards and shows the menu in Dutch. Considering these two trends and studying our human condition, this can be transformed into three tendencies. First, man is being increasingly being seen as machines and therefore can be taken apart for maintenance and repair and be overall improved. Second machines are becoming more humanoid wherein engineers are integrating human traits so that they are social, emotional in nature. Lastly, interactions between people have changed because machines are influencing our privacy and social life. So, the following question run through our minds, how close to the skin are we allowing technology tobecome?

We don’t want to live without computers but neither do we want computerised lives 

This intimate technology revolution promises the making of new humans: our bodies, minds and social environments giving birth to opportunities for personal and social development. Soon, there will be serious games for overcoming fear of airplane flying, reducing energy consumption or even treating schizophrenia. However, this intertwining of technology and ourselves also engenders numerous thorny political issues. There is an explosion of privacy issues. Today, how we stand in the world, what information is offered, how we meet others and experience the world, is increasingly getting pre-programmed leading to our behaviour being manipulated and social skills being threatened to crumble but it is hoped that faith in technology will prevail.

Author bio: Aditi Biswas is a research and communication expert at a global research firm that conducts technology research and provides market intelligent services. She helps firms gain actionable insights based on technology and best practices, thorough detailed market study and analysis.

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