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Technology isn’t killing us, but it might be helping us kill ourselves - Tech Insider

Posted: Andy Marken 05.15.18
“You're saying nobody's supposed to eat this food three times a day. No wonder all this stuff happened to you. But the scary part is: there are people who eat this food regularly. Some people even eat it every day.” – Morgan Spurlock, “Super Size Me,” Con, 2004

 

I like doing things for my family … my friends … myself. I don’t really like “things” doing stuff for me. Don’t get me wrong; I like technology. But will it really help or just be “damn that would be cool?”

You know:

  • Technology that improves quality of life or just makes things easier
  • Putting Facebook friend news ahead of real local, national, global news
  • Netflix’s, Tellywood’s Big Data analysis that guides what they pay to develop and serve to educate, inform and entertain us
  • How it all helps humanity get in better mental/physical shape

Maybe we want technology to do too much for us.

For instance, I enjoy flying for business or holidays. It’s less about the trip (face it, the process of getting on the plane is a pain) and more about doing things when you get where you’re going. Most of the trip—even for folks in the cockpit—is wonderfully boring, except when it’s not.  Then I like a real person up front making experience-based decisions. 

I like taking the stairs, rather than an escalator because it hurts a little and that’s good. If it’s 4-5 floors, I’m happy to get a little exercise.

I still pay for several newspapers and publications and enjoy reading them, except now I do it online.

I enjoy reading books – real books – because there’s a sensory appeal of the cover, pages and typography that is inwardly satisfying. Picking up, putting down a tablet .,, not so much.

I like my computer, tablet and smartphone because they enable me to find important stuff, stay in touch with people and create.  Of course, it’s gut-wrenching to put them down and know I’ll be out-of-touch just when someone wants something.

I enjoy driving places. It’s even cathartic ... watching, anticipating all of the idiots around me is fun, challenging. I like the convenience of voice turn-by-turn directions. But getting lost now and then, finding places you never knew existed (or wanted to know) is interesting.

If the house is really dirty, my wife will tell me what needs to be picked up. If something needs to be done in the yard, she’ll point it out to me. I have no desire for a bot to chase me around the house and yard … our African Grey parrot, Rocky, does that. I don’t think I need a toaster that’s smarter than I am or a refrigerator to tell me what to pick up at the grocery store.

You-know-who is smarter, she tells me.

AI Plus – An intelligent friend noted that a human-in-the-loop will be an integral part of a machine’s ability to handle complex or even mundane tasks for a long time to come.  After that, maybe the machines will have to see how well we’ve improved. 

AI (artificial intelligence) is sorta’, kinda’ neat, but I also like to make decisions based on personal experience, discussions with friends/family and gut instinct. AI isn’t the Alpha-Omega solution.  It has a long, long way to go. There are times when a dose of human logic helps--even when you muck up.

It’s the way lifeforms learn … trial and error.

I admit it, I’m not a big fan of the Facebook machine. The whole idea that it’s more important to put stuff from friends in front of me rather than news about the business, industry and world around me is dumb!

I think people have a broad range of interests: things they’re really interested in, kinda’ interested in, not really interested in but think it’s nice to know and things they totally disagree with.

I agree with Mitch Joel who heads Twist Communications and does the Six Pixels of Separation podcast up in Canada.  I appreciate editorial/publishing professionals who spend their days creating and curating stories for me to consider, skim,  read.  They do all the hard work.  I simply consume.

The Facebook faithful are going to miss a helluva’ lot!

Zuck had a good idea going—grabbing other people’s news and using his analytics to spoon-feed us what’s most important. Then he blew it for ratings.

The same holds true with Netflix, Hulu and Hollywood’s rush to use analytics to figure out what they’re going to fund, produce, show.

Ultimately, we’ll get a lot of the same old stuff. 

Early Reality Shows – The ancient Greeks and Romans enjoyed reality shows long before they became popular on your streaming screen.  It was fun for everyone but the participants.  

You know, shows that have been around since the Roman times—reality/game shows, good guys/bad guys.  Isn’t it better for folks to go out and make their own reality and play games?

Overall, technology has made it easier for almost everyone on the planet. 

Intake, Output – All machines run on energy, including you and me.  The big difference between the living machine and manufactured machines is that living machines have the ability to store extra energy for use later on.  However, its cut-off valve that says it has enough stored energy doesn’t always work real well.  

People move from rural areas to cities. Machines do work that people once did so folks burn less energy than they used to even though the intake remains the same … or increases.

People have ready access to inexpensive, processed junk foods and they’re buying/inhaling it by the ton.

Two years ago, WHO (World Health Organization) reported that in 114 countries half of the adult population was considered overweight; and in some areas, two-thirds of the population was considered overweight or obese, a higher prevalence than in the U.S. 

It’s a problem pretty much everywhere.

Heck, even the folks that make crash dummies for cars recently had to make them bigger to better represent the people riding in cars.

The WHO reported:

  • 3.8 million folks died worldwide because of excess weight in 2017.
  • In 2016, an estimated 422 million adults had diabetes.
  • Diabetes is rising faster than the global average in low to middle income countries.

 

 

Ballooning Issue – Technology has made life easier for almost everyone on the planet.  We no longer hunt for our food and fewer people toil in the fields from sun-up to sun-down; but still, we’re taking in the same (or more) calories to do less and less.  The result is a growing obesity problem. 

 

The easy cop-out is to blame the fast food folks and people who make all of that processed food:

  • Baked Goods
  • Beverages
  • Processed Meat and Seafood
  • Salty or Sugary Snacks
  • Frozen Desserts
  • Processed Fruit and Vegetables

But individuals make the ultimate buy/no buy decision, so they choose:

  • A 42-oz. cola over water or unsweetened iced tea
  • A pancake-wrapped burger over a salad
  • Half-pound of fries over jicama
  • Double latte over black coffee
  • A doughnut over wheat toast
  • Extra large bacon, sausage, pepperoni pizza over a medium vegetarian pizza

According to a report funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, no country has reported success in reducing obesity in the past 33 years. That tells us something isn’t working.

Maybe a better use of AI than serving up more friends’ photos or formula entertainment would be a nudge to push folks away from the table sooner and get them up to go to the club or just walk around.

 

Or, as Morgan Spurlock warned, “If you decide to keep living this way, go ahead. Over time, you may find yourself getting as sick as I did. And you may wind up here.”

But look on the bright side … a self-driving car can take you there.