On human nature and technology

Hey!

Today, I looked at my flatmate – crouched over his laptop, phased out into the digital dimension and busy with work. “I probably look exactly like him” – my first thought was. Suddenly, I remembered something I read on the topic of embodiment:

“The environment is part of the cognitive system. The information flow between mind and world is so dense and continuous that, for scientists studying the nature of cognitive activity, the mind alone is not a meaningful unit of analysis.” This statement means that the production of cognitive activity does not come from the mind alone, but rather is a mixture of the mind and the environmental situation that we are in. These interactions become part of our cognitive systems. Our thinking, decision-making, and future are all impacted by our environmental situations.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embodied_cognition

Basically, what I get from this wiki article is that humans see the world as an extension of themselves and utilize their surroundings to fulfill their intentions (offloading tasks, for example, as in writing down notes instead of memorizing).

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Now, what does it have to do with my flatmate? Well, I think this explains why people are so immersed into computers that they spend hours a day in an unnatural pose. See, the computer is a powerful tool – it can do many of the things we find difficult (memorizing, maths, wireless communication across the globe) with ease. This is why, when presented the opportunity, we gladly accept it into our cognitive mind as a part of us, loose ourselves into it, feel no hunger, no pain. The benefits are big – we get super powers, basically (WIFI is damn close to telepathy, don’t you think?).

So all is fine, nothing wrong with us… but wait! Back pains, eyesight problems, general health issues – all result from this “pairing”, us and the computer. And that’s a problem. If we agree that everything we do is well within our nature, then the computer must be to blame. And indeed, I claim that the health issues we face are due to how inconvenient computers are… have been so far, at least. This is changing!

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Google glass is just one example of how technology is becoming more intuitive and unobtrusive. We need to wait till next year, when it comes out, to see if it will live up to the hype, but it is certainly a step in the right direction for me.

Now, I blabbered for enough. What do you think?

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One response to “On human nature and technology

  1. Technology sure is to blame as it has not matured enough to be useful without, or at least with less, health issues involved. However, new devices are constantly emerging and chances are that they are becoming better and better with each new generation, just like this has been true for numerous biological species that (used to) inhabit our own lovely planet.

    However, I would not just focus on not yet quite adopted and relatively new technologies like Google Glass.

    The evolution of the little things that we call smartphones today is a perfect example of something that many people now find indispensable. A few years ago, when I was experimenting with different hacks on my Nokia 6600, and 5500 later, people would find this odd. You know, mobile phones are *just* for calling people and sending text messages. You are not supposed to make your life easier in any other way with them. Nowadays, if you look at an early S60-device, for instance, you would just laugh at the hardware and software capabilities while comparing them with those of the thing in your pocket.

    I would not even start with personal computers because you got the idea… 😉

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