Embracing Technology

01100110 01100001 01110010 01100101 01110111 01100101 01101100 01101100, #IS6621. (Translation.)

6d0e690e31ebbe8e32fc56ae01487ebbThe last 14 weeks have been illuminating for me. I came into this course with some cynical views on social media, digital businesses, and technology. I thought social media was a place for you to show a “better” version of yourself, a place to hide behind your computer and say whatever you wanted without recourse, a place to hide from the “real” world. Engaging with classmates in this course has shown me that social media and technology in general are so much more interesting and important than I realized. My feelings were especially changed after last week’s class. The “ Is Google Making Us Stupid?” article and the TedTalk “How the Internet Enables Intimacy” were eye opening for me. While there are still things about social media, technology, and the Internet that I don’t understand (and that lack of understanding can make me feel scared of it), I’ve definitely cultivated more of an open mind toward technology because of this course.

However, there are still a few technology related things that give me the heebie-jeebies:

westworld-young-robert-hostArtificial Intelligence (AI). AI popped up multiple times throughout this class. While I realize that AI doesn’t only mean robots that look human and act human (…but aren’t human?), it still is disturbing. Sure, Siri is kind of cool and people love Alexa, but have you seen Westworld?

Big Data. I don’t even have a Facebook account, but I feel like it still knows more about me than my mom does and that just doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t avoid Google, so it certainly knows me inside and out. I’ve talked to a lot of people who like that the advertisements they see on Facebook and Gmail are targeted to them. My partner clicks on advertisements selling him things all the time and loves that they are actually things he is interested in. I sort of understand that, but I still can’t get past the creep factor. We read an interview Professor Kane conducted with the Vice President of Global Partnerships at Facebook, “How Facebook is Delivering Personalization on a Whole New Scale,” at the beginning of the semester that didn’t really comfort me. In it, he explained that companies who advertise on Facebook can track the effectiveness of those advertisements, not just if you click on it and purchase online, but if you saw that ad on Facebook and then went to a store and purchased that item. There is also a list, “21 Scary Things Big Data Knows About You,” from Forbes I’d recommend you check out. We can’t realistically hide from Big Data and still be actively contributing members of the society we’ve built, so I’m going to have to grit my teeth and accept it.

Now, onto a happier note. There are a few tech things that I found eerie before this class, but that I now find exciting!

googlecarSelf-driving (autonomous) cars. A year ago, I thought this would be madness. We aren’t going to see that in our lifetime, I thought. I’d never get in a car that drove itself, I thought. Now that I’ve learned more about this technology and have had the chance to talk about it in this class, I don’t understand why I thought it was so terrifying before. I also don’t know how I didn’t realize that this was something that was absolutely happening in my lifetime. They are piloting driverless cars, it’s happening. This is one of the new techy things I’m excited to embrace.

elon-musk-quotes-success-successful-billionairef-ceoSpace exploration. To be fair, this one didn’t exactly freak me out before, but I didn’t understand Elon Musk’s stake in this. Why did he want to go to space so bad? The students in this class helped me better understand this one. He’s forward thinking, the SpaceX website says “The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.” With the way we are treating this planet, I think it might be a good idea to look for backups. Thanks, Elon.

playtest-0Augmented Reality (AR). While less scary than AI, definitely still has a creep factor. Pokemon Go was a hit when it came out. I haven’t actually played the game, but I saw it and thought it was pretty cool how they could overlap pokemon into our world. It’s innovative and cool, I see so many practical applications for it. I read an article recently about AR as a treatment to reduce phantom pain in missing limbs. There was that episode of Black Mirror that sort of used AR that was rather terrifying, but I’m still leaning toward this being a really good, powerful, new technology! 

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Digital innovation is exciting and it’s happening fast. We are lucky to be living right in the middle of it. This class helped me to engage in new technologies and updates in the tech world in a way that I hadn’t before. I will be keeping myself more informed in tech news now. Thanks everyone is #IS6621 for engaging conversations, blog posts, comments, and more!

The proper artistic response to digital technology is to embrace it as a new window on everything that’s eternally human, and to use it with passion, wisdom, fearlessness, and joy.”
-Ralph Lombreglia

10 comments

  1. francoismba · ·

    Awesome last blog post! I really enjoyed hearing about the topics that impacted you the most, both positively and negatively. I think you did a great job hitting some of the main discussion points of the class. I too was apprehensive about self-driving cars; however, I think they will ultimately be better drivers than most people currently are on the road. It will be interesting to see what happens with this technology in the future.

  2. Nice post. Sometimes, though, the stuff that gives you the heebie jeebies today is the same thing you can’t live without tomorrow!

  3. Awesome last-post, I loved the organization by “creep” factor and have to say I agree with your categorizations. Artificial intelligence and big data (from my knowledge of them in analytics classes) really creeped me out and I think they creep me out more now. But I also agree with self-driving cars. Prior to this class, I was skeptical and definitely not on bored, but it shows you knowledge of a subject and understanding makes it a lot less scary. I think that’s what this class did overall; it ought me about a lot of things that used to scare me and creep me out, and with that knowledge and understanding things become less strange and more realistically possibly and optimistic! Great blog!

  4. Thank you for your perspective on this class. I do have to agree with you most of the exposure i have to Social media as a college student is really biased, especially on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I sometimes view these platforms for people to ‘show off’ their best self like you mentioned. And I also do agree with you on Autonomous driving. I was not aware of all the technology and popularity until our twitter and class discussions. Although most people believe that we are still a few decades away from fully autonomous driving, the advancements are nonetheless compelling. As this technology develops, it will be interesting to see what other industries are displaced. Again, thank you for your final reflections.

  5. skuchma215 · ·

    Great post! Artificial intelligence is definitely a scary thought. The idea that AI may take over a large number of jobs is unsettling. Its cool to think that two of the things you are excited about, driverless cars and space exploration, are being pioneered by Elon Musk. Imagine where we will be in 2026 in terms of autonomous cars and space missions. Also, excellent quote at the end, I agree we should embrace new digital technology and not be afraid of it or shun it.

  6. Awesome post! A lot of the points and topics you brought up about AI and data is a little scary and creepy to think about, but it provides us with so much power as well to do so many things. Just like you, I am excited to see where all of the technology and social media platforms will go in the near future, as they are all moving so fast. It will be interesting to keep up with digital tech and how humanity will continue to embrace it or push it away.

  7. alinacasari · ·

    Awesome post!! I 100% get the heebie-jeebies from many of the things you mentioned. Artificial intelligence really freaks me out because it seems to have no boundaries to what it can do. Westworld is so addicting but super freaky!! It really makes me question where our society is headed and some of the moral implications behind our so-called ‘innovation.’

    As someone who unfortunately can’t drive, self-driving cars seem awesome to me! I didn’t expect to see so much progress in the industry so soon, but I do welcome the potential they have. It will be interesting to see how the moral dilemmas turn out (who will accidents choose), but I think they really are the next big thing. Digital innovation really is exciting and I’m interested to see what comes next. Great reflection!

  8. Aditya Murali · ·

    Great final post! Augmented Reality is definitely something that sticks out to me even more than virtual reality. I definitely think that there is a lot of potential in that space if it is developed properly, but there are also many scary aspects of it. Already today there are TED talks about how vision is subjective, and that we really don’t all see the same things because our past understanding and perception goes into the processing the images we take in with our eyes. Now if we add in augmented reality, who knows what each individual may be seeing on a day to day basis!! This brings me to another episode of Black Mirror that is truly horrifying, Men Against Fire. I tend to overreact and assume the worst, so I know that in reality, AR won’t be that bad and I’m sure there will be regulations and rules surrounding it. Nonetheless, it is definitely still creepy as hell.

  9. daniellep2153 · ·

    Great post! As someone who currently works with big data almost daily, it is definitely something that can be seen as scary. There are pieces of data that we don’t even know can be used in the ways that they are. In advertising specifically, having access to this kind of information is very useful, but I understand why you are concerned. On another note, I am also excited by self-driving cars. Although I’m not entirely sure how they will work and how they will be integrated into apps like Uber, I am very eager to see how they can impact our society. Nice Job.

  10. jagpalsingh03 · ·

    Great post! Some of the future of digital and technology does make me step back too. The idea of creating AI is so perplexing to me because the concept of intelligence and what it means to be human are so fluid that we entirely don’t understand what these mean, Yet, we are trying recreate these ideas. How do you test intelligence if we don’t even know what it means to be “intelligent”? As far as big data goes, I never gave much thought to it and had a “meh” attitude towards it; however recently, I learned that children pick their favorite sports teams, which they have long lasting attachments to, at the age of about 7-8. This is why so many professional sports teams/leagues put emphasis on inviting youth leagues to their games and portraying an inviting image. They are literally investing in 8 years olds as possible future revenue sources, which just seems predatory to me. Ultimately, I think moving forward, “privacy” is a concept that will stop existing or be radically redefined. It does seem daunting now but with all the “pros” of digital, I think it is something will learn to live without.

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