There has been a lot of coverage lately in the media on Artificial Intelligence and robots taking over humanity. But the media has it wrong. It’s not the robots that will take over humanity. It is we humans that are decomposing into robotic versions of ourselves, automating our own behavior day in and day out. This is what should scare us the most.
We are already robots
We spend many hours a day interacting with technology. Our phones alone have become a robotic extension of our arms. Our eyes are constantly plastered down into our mobile screens instead of observing our surroundings or taking part in relationships. A large part of human dialog has been replaced with systematic texting. Human behavior is changing. We risk becoming zombies if we stop thinking for ourselves and stop pushing our own limits without the aid of technology.
We are constantly charging our minds with information overload. Studies show an increased risk of early dementia and memory loss with each automated response. Society as a whole is becoming automated. Genuine happiness and real experiences are being replaced with hours of surfing on the internet. Children have replaced friendships with their iPads. Schools and universities are seeing a decline in creativity and original ideas, as inspiration comes more and more from mainstream social media.
Bringing back humanity
So no, robots are not taking over the world. I will even argue that they can ultimately enhance humanity by giving possibility and time back to humans. People can spend less time in their jobs on mundane tasks and more time with patients, clients and relationships.
What we choose to do with our time and existing behavioral trends however is entirely up to us on an individual level and as a society. We can choose to continue on the path we are on, or we can actively pursue offline luxuries and real experiences. We can foster creativity and meaning in our lives by encouraging offline periods. We can spend more time with each other without the distraction of our smart phones. We can embrace boredom and listen to our inner thoughts without drowning them on the internet.
Our children’s future are in our hands
My friend, a psychologist, told me that her daughter, 10 years old, was addicted to the iPad and constantly wanted to use it. She would rush home, eat quicker and say no to other activities, just to get on it. Nothing else was more important. So her mother made a new rule: No iPad during the week. Her daughter was outraged at first but then something happened. She started drawing, pursued other creative activities and spent more time with her family and friends. Her daughter said that she was glad her mom took the iPad away. She was much happier now.