Life seems to be getting easier and easier as technology develops, but are we losing ourselves in the process?
We’ve all heard the blissful benefits of life in the era of advanced artificial intelligence (AI): you wake up to your favourite tune as Amazon’s Alexa adjusts the bedroom temperature to the perfect degree, you step onto a hoverboard that takes you to the kitchen where your food has already been delivered (probably via drone), you hop into an autonomous Uber that drives you to work, where you put on a virtual reality headset that requires minimum physical labour, before being driven back home where you open your tablet and shop your favourite brands with the click of a button. (If you’re a social media influencer, you wouldn’t even need to hop out of bed – just take a selfie and call it a day.)
Whether in the corporate world or in the realm of social media, the realities of AI may differ from person to another, but as one Twitter user put it, AI is “life made easier”.
But is it also life made lazier?
The more technology develops, the harder it is to relax, with businesses adopting a brutal 24/7 working environment
There’s no doubt that technology has improved our lives in unimaginable ways. Since the 20th century, life just seems to be getting easier and easier. You no longer have to drive, cook, clean, repair a sink, change a car battery or even do your laundry – whatever you need, there’s either an app or a robot doing it for you. We don’t even have to call or see our relatives anymore; we’re in touch via WhatsApp 24/7, and they already have all our life updates from our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Everything and everyone is available all the time. Naturally, we get lazy.
We also get fatter, lonelier and more stressed.
Obesity in American adults has risen from 33.7 percent to 39.6 percent from 2015-16 alone, while mental health disorders are on the rise in every country in the world, according to the Lancet Commission report conducted by 28 global specialists.
Another report, the 2019 Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey – Well and Beyond – found that more millennials (23 percent) are stressed and likely to experience heart problems when compared to those aged 50 and above (17 percent).
Those aged between 18 and 34-years-old experience pain and discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath, light-headedness or dizziness, pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulders or jaw, neck or back pain. The reasons? Higher exposure to stress, despite millennials being BMI-aware, with a good perception of their physical wellness.
We may be getting lazier in terms of physical labour, but we’re mentally overworked
A 2016 study by the American Psychological Association found that out of 1 million American high school students, those who spent more time on screens felt psychologically worse than those who spent less time on screens, and that adults who spent less time on electronics were the happiest.
So while we may be getting lazier in terms of physical labour, we seem to be mentally overworked. The more technology develops, the harder it is for people to relax, with many businesses even stating that the days of 9-5 working hours are over, as the digital world forces us to work in a brutal 24/7 environment. After all, don’t we want everything available right at the time when we want it? I shamefully admit that I find myself becoming impatient if my lunch doesn’t arrive in 20 minutes, or if my colleague doesn’t respond to a work message right away, or if an Uber takes too long to reach me. Of course, there’s a counter-argument that technology like AI is, at the end of the day, merely a tool we use. It doesn’t dictate the effect it has on our lives.
We dictate that. Yet what concerns me the most is the loss of awareness in the human mind. I’m lucky if those reading my article have longer attention spans than the average (apparently, it is now 8 seconds) and have actually managed to reach this point.
One Twitter user pointed out, “AI might introduce the concept of ‘common sense,’ which humans seem to have lost.’ It looks to me like we’ve lost a whole lot more than common sense – control over ourselves, for example.