Tech — What Is It? And Will It Save Us?
I’ve heard a lot of people, especially digital immigrants (those born before Internet), talk about tech like it is the silver bullet solution. An etherial mystical substance or fluid that somehow is The Future. Some digital natives are also guilty, claiming that this or that app is going to fix, well, everything.
If the Digital Immigrant is the Italian grandma in New York who doesn’t speak a word of English, and the Digital Native is the granddaughter who doesn’t speak a word of Italian, I am the mother. The bridge between the two, who can still make pizza and is biligual in both. I spoke on a rotary dial phone, used Encarta, was 8 when Internet became a thing, 18 when I joined Facebook.
I’m going to break it down. What is this mystical being? and will it save us???
The Internet Comes From a Physical Thing
First, information is transmitted from physical machines. It is an object. These machines are in places, owned by people or companies in countries.
Sensors are getting really really cheap and, are being found everywhere as a result. These sensors pick up information which is stored, somewhere on a physical thing, owned by someone.
What used to be paper is now a machine — a data centre.
Information is sent like morse code — the wire is either on or off and the pattern of ons and offs tells a story.
The signal can be sent through a wire OR…through a signal in the air. This is where things get magical mysterious and mystical.
Where we used to use post (or pigeons), infomation is being sent through signals.
How Can Code Replace Humans?
Code is a language. A way of turning ons and offs on a wire into something more memorable and interpretable to the human brain.
Code can be translated into instructions. Like, if data point is this, do that. Essentially, this is an algorithm.
The thing we see, the screen is a pretty interface that makes the code even more manageable for the human brain.
You can build a series of algorithms that adapt to experience — much like a human brain.
Now the race is on to translate all human activities into a series of algorithms.
Will Tech Save Us?
The silver bullet! Why?
- We can communicate with each other faster.
- We have data about many things, which we can analyse and use to predict what will happen next. Good predictions lead to better planning.
Maybe not a silver bullet, however.
Although tech might automate human survival, if will certainly not fix social problems.
Tech is built on top of human culture and society. Similarly to the United Nations, which is built of imperfect governments which still have beef and compete with each other. Tech does not fundamentally change social structures and behaviours. Tech is a walking stick, an aid. But it is just a tool.
What Will Be Left for Humans To Do?
Machines can calculate much more accurately and better than us, so it’s really a lost battle. The only thing we can go back to is emotions and ‘irrational’ social issues like conflicting cultures, war, etc.
This leaves a big questionmark over what will humans do when machines become great? How will we make a living?
We are edging towards a progressively more post-capitalist society where the idea of work and pay is being redefined. Working will no longer be about survival because of basic necessities.
See my next article: What Will Come After the Tech Revolution?