Those days are gone. Kevin Kelly on privacy online

Tracked and trapped?A couple of years ago it seemed to be surprising: Schools warned us that the pictures we are uploading can’t really be deleted and will be “out” there online for forever. Today it already seems to be an old topic to us. Asking people about if they know that data about our preferences and identity are collected with every smartphone-companied step we take or every klick we do, they just seem to have accepted it as a necessary thing. However, data collection has apparently reached a new level: According to a study of the University of Cambridge you can predict e.g. person’s sexual orientation, political leanings, religion, intelligence, emotional stability, if they abuse drugs or alcohol by having a look Facebook likes. (Kosinski et. al., 2013)

And in fact, Kevin Kelly author from “What technology wants” (2012) and editor or “Wired” argues, that what the internet wants is to collect and to copy. “What the Internet does is track, just like what the Internet does is to copy, and you can’t stop copying. You have to go with the copies flowing, and I think the same thing about this technology. It’s suggesting that it wants to monitor, it wants to track, and that you really can’t stop the tracking. “ (Kelly in Brockman, 2014) Talking about the lack of power to stop this trends he posts that we should try to establish an information symmetry instead of the asymmetric. That basically means that corporates should make transparent what they collect from us. Is it the right age? The right “like”?

However being a positivist about the internet Kevin Kelly explains that technologies add on. They do not develop from one invention to each other, they are always giving us new possibilities and choices.

Moreover, I guess, that you can only operate in a system by using its communication (for more theoretical background e.g. Luhman on theory of systems). That’s why Kevin Kelly’s way to look as technology as something included in human being and not separate is great. He concludes, that “We can’t regulate technology by prohibiting it. We have to only regulate it by use. We have to use things in order to steer them or rearrange them or reassign them.” (Kelly in Brockman, 2014) With his empathic way to look at the developments intersecting to the humans developments, he allows us to operate within this system.

People don’t want to give up the new options they have gained or live in the past. (Kelly, 2010)Even if those thoughts seem to be positive, we can’t predict where this data collecting and sharing is leading us to. Is there an end or what is the new beginning?

References

Brockman, J. (2014). The Technium. A conversation with Kevin Kelly. Retrieved from https://edge.org/conversation/kevin_kelly-the-technium

Kelly, K.. (2010). What technology wants. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Kosinski, M., Stillwell, D., & Graepel, T. (2013). Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 5802-5805.

What Does Technology Want For Social Media?

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Since the growth of technology, social media has become a huge outlet than many people use on a regular basis. So many people are constantly connected to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and it’s not uncommon for people to have accounts on multiple platforms.

According to Kelly (2010) “Our role as humans, at least for the time being, is to coax technology along the paths it naturally wants to go” (p. 269). Social media was initially created as a place where people can share their thoughts, reconnect with people from their past, and even learn new information. However, the anonymity that the Internet offers has increased that to an extreme. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, people are downright mean on the Internet, saying things that you know would never be said in a face-to-face setting.

Kelly suggests that technology wants increasing efficiency, opportunity, complexity, freedom, mutualism, and structure, among other things (2010, p. 270). We can definitely agree that the use of social media offers opportunity. People are able to talk about whatever they want, and reach out to a large audience of people. On the negative side, it offers people the opportunity to be excruciatingly negative. Social media also offers a great deal of freedom. Sometimes people have opinions, but are too afraid to say the kinds of things they’re thinking out loud. The Internet gives them the opportunity and freedom to say them hidden behind the safety of their computer screen.

You see this happening all the time if you go on Facebook and look at the pages for anyone who is running in the 2016 presidential election. Take Hillary Clinton, for example. She’s running in the election, so she has a team utilizing the social media aspect, making posts encouraging people to vote for her. Simple enough. People who support her campaign and they see all her posts. However, if you take a closer look at the posts, and read into the comment sections, a large majority of the comments are criticizing Clinton, and saying what an awful president she’d make. Instead of filling their social media experience with things they actually enjoy, these people actively seek out things they dislike, such as Hillary Clinton, and use their accounts to spread negativity. A few comments would be one thing. However, if you look at any Facebook page, there are countless people who go on to those pages and say insulting and childish things about whatever the page is representing, just to annoy and irritate the people who actually enjoy that thing.

So, my question for you is this: Is this what technology wants? Social media is a wonderful tool that is being developed, but is the path technology wants it to take really for it to be used as a way to insult others and spread negativity. As I said before, people are entitled to their own opinions, but is it really enjoyable to use technology as a way to cause a ruckus and act childish? Seems a little feckless to me.

References

Kelly, K. (2010). What Technology Wants. Penguin Publishing Group, New York.

Technology is the final frontier

It seems as though we spend every waking moment of the day looking at our tiny screens on our mobile devices hoping we get a text from someone or a mention on Twitter. Why do we do it? The answer is social verification.

Three years ago, a study from Chicago University found Facebook was more addictive than cigarettes. This is because every time they had received a “like” a shot of dopamine is released from your brain, which causes people to reveal similar effects as someone with addiction, like with cigarette smoking. In this way, humanity’s own creation has conditioned us, much like Ivan Pavlov’s classical conditioning experiments on dogs, so we can become so sensitized to technology that we become use to submitting to its will. Why do we let it do this? The answer lies in ourselves.

In the book What Technology Wants, Kelly (2010) discusses how technology predated humanity, but it was not until language was created that the technology boom took off. Finally, when someone invented a piece of technology they could tell the whole tribe the process, which meant it was repeatable. This repeatability factor was an emphasis of that era of technology. Technology has helped humans hunt, make biological advancements and discoveries, but why create it?

Ever since humans became self-aware, they have not been happy with the environment or themselves because of their morality. Humans have been creating technology to correct the natural uncertainties of such as biological patterns, lifespan their strength and capabilities relative to that of their rival, simply because they crave control over everything we interact with.

I think Kenneth Burke’s definition of man describes human nature quite well. In Language as Symbolic Action, Burke (1966) states in his definition of man:

Man is the symbol-using (symbol-making, symbol-misusing) animal, inventor of the negative (or moralized by the negative), separated from his natural condition by instruments of his own making, goaded by the spirit of hierarchy (or moved by the sense of order), and rotten with perfection.”

Hughes (2014) traces humanity’s obsession with perfection back to Greek mythology with tales of the quest for the fountain of youth, in order to stave off death, but technology has allowed us to accelerate fulfilling this insatiable desire.

When examining the morphology of technology’s rapid evolution and expansion, Kelly (2010) likened technology’s early evolution to biological evolution, even going as far lining up human history with the history of technology. While humans evolve over the slow process of biological evolution, which takes thousands of years, technology is constantly changing, adapting, evolving and becoming increasing self-aware (You can thank artificial intelligence (AI) for that one).

McLuhan (1964) explained as we adopt technology into our lives it becomes part of our central nervous system, which improves our natural sensibilities and capabilities, but alters how we perceive them. Professor Nayef Al-Rodhan, an Oxford University Scholar, is renowned for his research in Transhumanism (humans evolving through technology). Al-Rodhan believes the desire to improve our physical and mental capabilities are the result of an innate desire and theorized that humans will reach a point of ‘inevitable Transhumanism.’ This is when humans will constantly seek to improve themselves through technologies such as AI and nanotechnology because they are “neuro-chemically hardwired to ‘feel good.’”

If Al-Rodhan is correct in his assessment, he would prove Kelly (2010) right that technology is the last human invention we will ever need or have. In Kelly’s (2010) assessment, the invention of language was the last major invention of the natural world, and the first of the technological age. Kelly is right in the regard humanity is just going to keep improving upon its creation to a point where we develop AI that surpasses human intelligence.

When technology reaches that point, Professor Stephen Hawking, one of Britain’s pre-eminent scientists believes humans could be in trouble because technology and machines have that much AI would pose a threat to the human race.

Hawking told the BBC last year, “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded.” Hawking has since reiterated his belief believing that will occur sometime in the next 100 years.

According to Kelly (2010), “We don’t go on as we are. We address the problems of tomorrow not with today’s tools but with the tools of tomorrow. This is what we call progress.” (p. 101). But when these tools are the problem humanity must overcome is that progress and can they anything to stop it?

What Keanu Reeves had to do before opening the script

Our life is more and more structured by the technological innovations. In Munich I use public transportation a lot more and an app is constantly sending me delays or different traveling options. If I go out of the house without my smartphone in Munich, I feel immediately lost. Like I am, wide parts of humanity are probably aware that technology is taking over a part of their life. Moreover, it creates new cultures and new knowledge. The knowledge that we can just shut it off to get rid of the annoying noises and lightening, has always been sort of a relief.

Kevin Kelly, who has been avoiding technology for a long time and has then become one of the greatest thinkers about technology in our society, tells us now, that we were never able to shut technology off. In fact technology is something, which is much more close to our own species then we think: We are both indeed created out of material and circling information as well as energy. Furthermore he explains, that similar to humans technology is eager to maintain themselves. However this connection as well as how much we synchronize with technology and how much our society became what they are with all the requirements from Aufklaerung to Internet – We can’t think of us separate from technology anymore.

That’s why Keanu Reeves had to read Kevin Kelly’s book, before he started to study the script. Here the movie’s plot for those, who haven’t watched the movie yet: In the near future, a computer hacker named Neo (of course acted by Keanu) discovers that all life on Earth may be nothing more than an elaborate facade created by a malevolent cyber-intelligence, for the purpose of placating us while our life essence is “farmed” to fuel the Matrix’s campaign of domination in the “real” world. He joins like-minded Rebel warriors Morpheus and Trinity in their struggle to overthrow the Matrix (ImbD).

Kevin Kelly explains how the systems itself creates random data, which seems to be structured similar to organizational data. Doesn’t this scenario sound scaring close to what Kevin Kelly is talking about? Kevin Kelly explains how the systems itself create apparently random data, which seem to be close to organizational data.

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Kevin Kelly himself explains in four points on his website,why he is an AI (artificial intelligence) positivist: (1) AI is not improving exponentially, means we can’t measure intelligence and there is no evidence that the technological intelligence is raising. (2) We’ll reprogram the AIs if we are not satisfied with their performance. (3) Reprogramming themselves, on their own, is the least likely of many scenarios. (4.) Rather than hype fear, this is a great opportunity, which includes we should learn to teach ethics, moral sense, equity, and so on. Do these points equaling his own arguments out? What are you thinking about his perspective on the term technology (including the technium as new term)?

References

Kelly, K. (2010). What technology wants. New York: Viking.

Kelly, Kevin (2014). Why I Don’t Worry about a Super AI. Retrieved from: http://kk.org/thetechnium/

Technology at the roots of evolution

This week, I had to do training for work. The training was based on a new video app that my newspaper purchased for everyone in the newsroom. The app can shoot video, has editing tools, and then can post directly to multiple social media accounts and link the video to the corresponding article on our actual website, all within minutes.

Technology can be amazing.

But even these nifty new apps can’t keep up with the evolution of said technology. Kevin Kelly discusses evolution in “What Technology Wants” and talks about the pushes to unending evolution. Technology is limited by” matter and energy.” People are always pushing for a slimmer phone, a lighter phone, and a phone that does twice as much as competitors.

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Check out this chart comparing a few older iPhone models. It’s a rundown of the main features, which phones have them and which don’t. These charts inundate the internet because consumers want to make sure their purchase is the latest and greatest. They want a battery that only needs charged every few days, and an operating system that would allow them to play high-quality graphics on a video game. The limitations of what is actually possible are constantly being pushed, and as Kelly says, not all imagined ideas can actually come to life. However, as technology evolves, more and more are getting that life breathed into them.

Kelly goes on to discuss that technology itself also propels it toward new innovation and evolution. Of course, it makes perfect sense for a few reasons. The more technology created and developed means that much more information and tried and tested theories. That information can then be used in other aspects of technology to develop new things. Also, technology can take on much of the work for us in terms of development. There are so many programs now available. We can simply program in anything we want and technology will work out all the specifics like the glorious calculator it is.

It’s also a rat race in the business. Three days after launching the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, Apple reported selling more than 13 million devices. That number is huge! It actually set new records for Apple in terms of any release weekend sales numbers.

http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2015/09/28Apple-Announces-Record-iPhone-6s-iPhone-6s-Plus-Sales.html

Did that many people really need the new iPhone? Does anybody? But, am I typing this blog as I sit next to my new iPhone 6s? Maybe. And among all that hype, already the iPhone 7 has been announced. When purchasing my new phone, I already got the rundown on how to trade it in next year for the newest model. These phones already do more than any of us probably use on a daily basis, but still we just want them so desperately.

Our own evolution is so routed now to technology. Mankind will continue to advance and move forward, accomplishing bigger and more extreme feats, as long as they continue to develop the technology that will allow it to be so.

Do you believe that mans’ advancement is linked to technology? What would happen if we suddenly stopped buying into all the hype for every new phone? Would technology across the board lose funding, and lead to us losing opportunity?

References

Kelly, K. (2010). What Technology Wants. Penguin Publishing Group.

Is technology predated our humanness? 

Technology & Humanness

To answer the question of the author, Kevin Kelly, I think technology does not predate our humanness, but rather it has coexisted with humanness, developed, and progressed throughout the course of human existence. Technology is not necessarily a human creation, but humans take credit for it because we have developed it beyond any otherworldly being.  Our perspective of technology is defined by the time.  For example, axes, stone tools, and arrowheads were recent technology in the time of the Neanderthal because it demonstrates the creation of a method/device that accomplished an objective.   These tools were created through research (although it was primitive, but may have followed some sort of scientific method such as trial and error of different materials) in order to hunt, build shelter, and make clothing (all the objectives).  On the other hand, our contemporary idea of technology is creating a cell phone that can perform the maximum amount of functions efficiently.  Again, this demonstrates the creation of a tool based on fulfilling an objective.

Technology has always been part of our life, so we can only speak about what life was like without the technology that we use today.  Academic life was much different before the common use of the computer.  When assigned a research paper, I had to be aware of library hours and plan ahead so that I could spend a few hours doing the first steps of research.  I would use a “card catalogue” to locate printed publications about my topic of research.  Then, I would locate the books, journals, or magazines by going to each of those different sections of the library and search out the “call number” using the “Dewey Decimal System”.  I would have to read each article to locate the information I was looking for, then see if that information was something that could be used in research.  If I found enough resources, then I would check the books out.  If not, I would perform the whole process again.  After the paper was written, then I would type the paper on a typewriter, keeping plenty of paper and white out nearby.

If technology did not exist, the impact would have social, economical, and worldwide consequences.  Certain social aspect of life, such as using the social media, email, or even the telephone would be the strongly impacted for the worse.  Without social media and connections, personal news that people post online, however significant or insignificant, would not reach as many individuals and in such a short span of time as it does now.  We would rely on simple methods of communication such as face-to-face, traveling, or by mail (which is even involves some form of technology).  Economically, many countries of the world would suffer since most of the top 100 companies in the world are based around technology such as oil, automotives, computers, and retail.  Countries would go into chaotic disorder in an attempt to create a different market for their own survival.  Without the use of computers and modern transportation such as automobiles, there would be no market to sustain in these areas and all these companies would shut down.

Kevin Kelly, What Technology Wants

The Rapid Growth of Technology: Is it Growing Too Fast?

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According to Kelly (2010) “We don’t have to do everything that the technium demands, but we can learn to work with this force rather than against it. And to do that successfully, we first need to understand technology’s behavior. In order to decide how to respond to technology, we have to figure out what technology wants” (p. 17).

Technology is growing at a rapid rate. It is constantly being developed, altered, and improved upon. It seems like more and more, technology is changing almost on a daily basis.

According to Kelly (2010) “Most change in the past cyclical: A forest was cleared for a field and then a farm was abandoned; an army came and then an army left. Droughts followed floods, and one king, either good or evil, succeeded another. For most humans, for most of the time, real change was rarely experienced. What little change did happen occurred over centuries” (p. 73).

That doesn’t really follow suit with how technology is being developed. For example, companies like Samsung and Apple are releasing new phones before their old models are even out of the packages. Xbox and Playstation are coming up with new systems regularly, making systems that have only been out a year or two obsolete. Ways to make our graphics better, our gaming experiences more rewarding, and our calling more efficient are constantly being discovered. Technology wants to grow, and it is.

But that still doesn’t really fit with what Kelly’s comment about humans experiencing change as a very slow process. These companies, such as Apple, think they have to come out with something bigger and better every year to appeal to the masses. Is that what humans really want though?

When Apple announced the iPhone 6S, people jumped right on the bandwagon to preorder for its upcoming release. We as humans want desperately to have the “in” thing, and to have the latest and greatest technology. At least that’s what we say we want.

When a new product is released, people are initially excited, but then people often complain that the technology is too different or that it’s too confusing. Many have said they don’t understand the point of the Apple Watch and think that it’s a complete waste of money. Aside from the iPhone 6S, Apple announced another new product at their famous Keynote presentation: the Apple Pencil. Supposedly the Apple Pencil is going to be a glorified stylus for the iPad.

While some people were excited, many reacted negatively, not understanding why Apple was releasing this as opposed to making what already exists better (for example, many complained that the Apple charging cords are fragile and the wires break easily). Technology is continuing to grow at a rapid rate, but I’m not sure that it’s necessarily because technology wants that. It’s more so because companies feel the constant need to be the best of the best and outdo each other. Instead of developing the technology we already have, and making it the best it possibly can be, new technology is constantly being released without enough testing. Apple’s new iOS comes to mind. When iOS 9 was released, many people were wary of the new operating system because Apple is notorious for releasing operating systems with a lot of bugs. This one was no difference. There was a slew of bugs and issues that needed fixed, and Apple has released a few updates to the OS, because instead of releasing it when it was ready, they cranked out a new system that was supposed to be “better.”

We as humans like new technology. We soak it up like a sponge. However, the rapid change in technology is a lot for us to take in. Humans are naturally resistant to change, especially change that isn’t done well. It would be easier for us to take, and better for these companies, if they spent longer developing it and making sure it’s growing in a positive direction, as opposed to forcing it to grow when it might not be ready.

References

Kelly, K. (2010). What technology wants (p. 17, 73). New York: Viking.