The uncontrolled impact of digital technology


Fred Ryan worries that people are using their digital devices too much and are being overwhelmed by “digital fatigue”. (“Digital fatigue… what took it so long?” November 1)

Ryan says digital fatigue is something to worry about because the use of social media is not making people as informed as one would think they should be. It may be causing health problems as we concentrate too much on the digital screens. It certainly changes social interaction habits.

We are glued to social media, but it has run amok. We have no long-term studies on how it affects the learning of this generation of children. We do know that more and more parents rely on digital technology to entertain their kids.

But the use of digital technology is not there to educate. Currently, it is there to entertain; to sell. It has also become an indispensable communication tool. People rely on it to find directions and goods. It is everywhere. We haven’t invented it but have become slaves of it.

It can be argued that the plenitude of digital technology also exposes the ignorance and duplicity of certain social elements present in our society. It is used for negative, often criminal, purposes.

So how to change the use of the digital “information” technology so that our experience with it is more “sane” is the question to ask. How do we carry on with digital technology without getting “digital fatigue”?

While some people are fatigued by the digital world, the younger generation seems to embrace it.

What is more worrisome than AI digital fatigue is the artificial intelligence work making even faster and smarter digital technology. Billions of dollars are being invested every year to find better technology and robotic uses, in an effort to mimic human action. Just as social media has changed the landscape of human communication, so will the uncontrolled development of AI.

Without regulation and control, the digital fatigue of computer technology will become a digital nightmare. Ryan is right. We must be worried; we must clamour for better action on controlling it, lest private forces pushing this pervasive technology allow it to slip into the hands of tyrants.

The quest for faster technology, smarter technology, may well result in the smothering of cultural identity, rational thinking, and human relatedness. Unbelievable as this sounds, one day we may create intelligent technology that will find no use for the human race. Like so many other undesirable things we find in society today, we haven’t accepted that reality nor have we found a way to fix it.