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Dehumanizing issue of the new era

The 20th century is known for many industrial discoveries that changed the way we live today. But what about this century, the one we are living in? Well, this century was marked by the Internet and social media. We now spend the majority of our time online. Although we may not be thinking about this, someone somewhere is probably tracking our ever-growing activity in the virtual world. Despite all of that, for some it may seem that our lives have become much easier with the commodity called the Internet. And they just might be right. Still, does easy necessarily equals better for ourselves?

Let us take a look at one of the most popular social networks – Facebook. Its creation was driven by desire to create a community. As stated in the article in the Independent, “In 2004, a group of friends at college created an innovative new social media platform with the aim of connecting Harvard students through an online community.” We already had forums, which were some sort of precursors to today’s popular Facebook groups. Back in the day, people had to go from person to person to look for certain piece of information, or to go to the library and spend hours rummaging through written sources. Now, we can merely ask a question and a certain number of answers will populate shortly. Sometimes, we do not even need to ask: thanks to data mining, every second we are being presented with brand new recommendation. You ran out of music ideas? No problem, Spotify will create a playlist for you based on what you’ve been listening in no time. Same goes for products that you buy. As Doctorow’s article put it, we are “trading privacy for services”. We are share our every step, our google searches, our friends, where we go and what we do, in order to get recommendations. Have we become so spoiled by these services that we stopped caring about the invasion of our privacy? Or could it be that these recommendations on social media gathered with the data that we shared are shaping our preferences? Are we are becoming programmed by algorithms with the aim of becoming predictable, robot-like? There was even a bot hat managed to pass as an actual person that posted for some time on Reddit. It could “impressively weave a single idea through multiple paragraphs, building its case, or telling a story.” It was insane how people were in fact ready to listen and communicate to an actual machine. However, in the end it seems that other users realized that it had been a Bot all time along. It seems that we still have that logical reasoning left in us. But, even that is something that could deteriorate over time. Social media accounts are created to make us addicted and check on a regular bases, sometimes without any particular reason. The sentence from the Steemit article caught me: “Have you caught yourself performing an action without giving it a thought? “ They also quoted an article published by Qz which made an interesting point: ”…you and I and millions of other people routinely respond to a stimulus and click and go without understanding what we’re getting ourselves into, we are behaving like machines. We’re being, in a sense, conditioned or programmed to behave that way. “

With all being said, in this post-covid world where more and more things are being transferred to the virtual world, we may ask ourselves: Are we going to become more robotic? Or are robots going to become more like us? It is obvious that we, human beings, are imperfect and robots are not. As the kmeme article put it “They’d take everything we’ve ever written as a mere seed, and from that seed, they would produce a nearly endless forest of new content. Like a million monkeys at typewriters, but monkeys who are smart, fast, and tireless.“ Of course, one can also look at it from the other, more optimistic, perspective: “Robots can contribute significantly to high productivity levels and lesser work hazards. So instead of worrying that robots are going to deprive us of our jobs and render of useless, we should focus on making good use of them.” Still, we can only hope that we still possess the traits – such as creativity – that makes us more valuable than robots. To hope that we have not yet been programmed to the extent that we have lost our uniqueness.

M.J.

I hereby confirm that this work is solely the result of my own independent scholarly work and that if any ideas, text passages, or diagrams from books, papers, the Web or other sources have been copied, paraphrased, or in any other way used, all references – including those found in electronic media – have been clearly acknowledged and fully cited.

Sources:

1. Barr, S. (2018). When did Facebook start? The story behind a company that took over the world

2. Doctorow, C. (2012). The curious case of Internet privacy

3. kmeme (2020). GPT-3 Posed as a Human on AskReddit for a Week

4. inforvore (2016). Are We Becoming Robotic? Are Robots Becoming More Human? – The Delicate Quandary and Relearning The Art of Mindfulness

5. Goldhill, O. (2016). Instead of asking, “are robots becoming more human?” we need to ask “are humans becoming more robotic?”

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