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Unplug?

My last post about unfriendly artificial intelligence got me thinking about our complicated love / hate relationship with technology, I asked myself, "What would it mean to unplug?" And, "Is that even possible?" So, naturally, I turned to my computer and ran a Google search for the word "unplug."

Technology is pervasive and offers us so much. Yet, we worry about where all of this might be heading. Will "the cloud of things" engulf us? Will we be chipped and tracked like cattle or an Amazon delivery?

The temptation of rebelling against technology is strong, yet what would that achieve? And, frankly, is it really an option?

Here is an interesting piece from The New Yorker that reflects on our dilemma and the real challenge we face: its not about the technology - its about how we use it. Still, we face great challenges ensuring that the cloud doesn't vaporize our freedom. Is there some way to put a moral / ethical boundary around the invasive nature of the digital age? And, could we actually enforce and live with those moral boundaries? Or have we already passed the tipping point?

Quote from The New Yorker:

...how quickly the digital age turned into the age of technological anxiety, with our beloved devices becoming something to fear, not enjoy. What sex was for the Puritans, technology has become for us. We’ve focussed our collective anxiety on digital excess, and reconnecting with the “real” world around us represents one effort to control it.

And yet the “real” world, like the “real” America, is an insidious idea. It suggests that the selves we are online aren’t authentic, and that the relationships that we forge in digital spaces aren’t meaningful. This is odd, because some of our closest friends and most significant professional connections are people we’ve only ever met on the Internet, and a third of recently married couples met online. It’s odder still because we not only love and socialize online but live and work there, too. Is it any less real when we fall in love and break up over Gchat than when we get fired over e-mail and then find a new job on LinkedIn?

I was struck last year when Pope Benedict XVI, after he started tweeting, delivered a message on social networks. “The exchange of information can become true communication, links ripen into friends, and connections facilitate communion,” the Pope said. He added that, with effort, “it is not only ideas and information that are shared but, ultimately, our very selves.” Perhaps most surprisingly, the Pope argued, “The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young.”

Read the entire article.