Advancement of Technology: New Realities
For the majority of human existence it was expected that the world in which you died would be pretty much the same as the world in which you were born, however in this day and age that is no longer the case. I for one have always thought about how the world will change in years to come and how my future will look with respect to technology, and I am sure that the vast majority of my generation have pondered these thoughts at some point. Flying cars, self-tying shoelaces, hoverboards… Back to the Future has really set the bar high for what to expect, and although these things aren’t what we now see on a day-to-day basis, the reality behind this sort of new technology is no longer just science-fiction.
From the dawn of modern technology and computing, advancements made have been exponential. Moore’s Law states that approximately every two years computing power doubles, and astonishingly this has held for almost half a century. The power of the computer that first took man to the moon is a fraction of the power that we carry around in our pockets. This incredibly quick growth in technology has not only changed the world as we know it, but has also shaped society in ways that previously would not have been considered a possibility.
The major issue with this rapid progression in technology is the people it leaves behind. Although we as a generation are instinctively tech savvy, the same cannot be said for the generations before us. Almost 6 million adults in the UK have never used the internet, and up to 90% of jobs now require some computer use. This means that people falling behind with technological developments will have more of a struggle in finding work, and the further they fall behind the harder it will be for them to catch up to this digital world. Research also shows a clear correlation between digital exclusion and social exclusion, meaning that people who haven’t had the opportunities to learn and experience new technology may be excluded from meaningful participation in society. The elderly people are the most likely to suffer from this, especially with the digitisation in services such as online banking and online shopping. With this in mind, it is crucial to make any digital services more accessible to the less technological demographics and ensure that they have the same opportunities that others have. I mean, what is the point in advancement if we’re leaving members of society behind?
The issue of exclusion is something that is prevalent in modern society, however to combat this problem in the near future it is important to be aware of what the next big advancement is and the effect and implications it may have on the world. As trends show, and in my personal opinion, the next big thing comes in the form of goggles and a headset…
If someone had have asked me what I wanted for Christmas 10 years ago my answer would have been simple: a game for my Playstation console, which by today’s standards would be the retro-equivalent to an arcade game. I could never have imagined playing with anything other than a controller plugged into a box, plugged into a screen. But now the reality of it is virtual. Kids across the globe asking for headsets that throw them into an immersive world from the comfort of their own living room. For many children across the world this is the reality of gaming now, but the extent of this technology reaches far further than simple entertainment. From training doctors in real-world scenarios to rehabilitating patients with brain injuries, there is no denying that the applications of this technology will have a great impact on the lives of many people. However alongside all the good stuff, virtual reality poses a lot of possible problems to society and the individual.
The idea of escaping from the reality of life is nothing new, but it has never been possible to truly ‘leave’ reality. With the rise of VR this is all about to change, and whether this is a good or bad thing is a very hot topic to be debated. People may have the option to replace their real lives with ones inside of virtual worlds, where the sun always shines and the sky is always blue.
However, a life lived online or outside of regular society is seen as unhealthy and can pose serious problems to a person. Through this technology that should supposedly bring communities of people together, individuals can be pushed further and further into isolation, which may be what urged them into a virtual world from the beginning. Once we become disconnected from real life and society, it can be very hard to adjust back into the ‘normal’ way of things.
A New Reality?
This disconnection from reality is a very real problem and is not only relevant to VR. It is a current issue in the world with lives being lived through a screen, whether it’s your smartphone or laptop. One question that has to be asked, however, is whether this is in fact a disconnection from reality, or a step towards a new reality. If technology continues to advance at the rate it is, and there are currently no signs of slowing down, then who’s to say that in the near future all basic human activities won’t be online or in some virtual world? Elon Musk believes there is a high possibility that we in fact exist within a simulation, which is not a long shot away from virtual reality, and if we’re not, then some day in the future it will be necessary for the survival of the human race to exist within a virtual world, and this technology is the first step towards that.
Being a computer science undergraduate I came into the Digital Society course thinking I wouldn’t learn many new things. I believed I had a very good knowledge of the digital world in which we live, and I didn’t think I was going to be challenged by the unit. However, I was pleasantly surprised from the beginning, and a little embarrassed by my naivety. This reflection will discuss my experience with the Digital Society and the new skills I have gained from this course.
Perhaps one of the most important things I have learned from the Digital Society is not only how to write critically, but how to think about and evaluate others’ ideas critically. I have gained confidence in my ability to analyse information and view it from different people’s perspectives, allowing me to gain a deeper insight into the topic and helping me form a stronger, well-rounded opinion. Initially, with my DigiSoc1 post, this was a definite weakness of mine, however through numerous discussions and practice throughout the months I feel that I have significantly improved this skill set. This will be greatly beneficial for my future, as being able to critically analyse ideas is a very desirable skill that I will be able to apply to any job or area of employment.
The Pecha Kucha presentation from DigiSoc2 was probably one of the most useful assignments with regards to learning. I had never heard of this style of presentation, and I am extremely thankful that I had the opportunity to try it out. The ability to convey a great deal of information in a condensed, to-the-point manner is a definite sought out skill that proves to be useful in all aspects of writing and presenting, as well as maintaing the audience’s interest throughout. Furthermore, this was the assignment in which I gained an understanding into correctly attributing images, and I can put these presentation skills to use in any future academic or occupational tasks, or use my new-found summarising ability to assist with studying during exam time.
Pecha Kucha style presentation on charities in the current digital world.drive.google.com
Having done a very technical course for the past three years I was worried about my writing ability, however the assignments from this course have helped me greatly improve this. Not only that, but it was also refreshing to be writing in such an informal tone thanks to the blog posts. This has opened me up to a style of writing that I had previously not tried, and has encouraged me to further consume blogs as a reading medium. I believe it is important to experience different styles of writing and have an understanding of what makes them all unique, as this wider knowledge is not only beneficial to potential job prospects, but also beneficial in a world were information is conveyed across many different platforms, whether it’s online or in print.
Overall, the Digital Society course has not only been one of my most enjoyable units, but also one of the most interesting. Each assignment has taught me a variety of transferrable skills, and each session has opened me up to a new theme and allowed me to discuss it with my peers, pushing me to think critically and independently about the digital society in which we live.