Humanity and Technology: The Alliance
Technology is advancing at lightning speed. Faster all the time, it is spreading into all areas of our lives. Equipment that once was obsolete two years ago is now obsolete within 6 months. Technological tools are getting smaller and more affordable to the entire world. Businesses and governments are trying to find their economic equilibrium as consumers purchase goods laterally, from one another through the Internet, often avoiding traditional consumer shopping or payment of sales tax.
Humanity is reeling from the physical effects of technology as well. Normal human development does not happen at lightning speed; it is a timed and sequenced process that requires human interaction, behavioral learning, and real experiences, if we are to learn the full spectrum of emotion and mature into healthy and happy adults. In times past, the way we lived our lives incorporated human interaction. Technology has now changed the way we live. Pushed too rapidly, human development becomes distorted or retarded, and emotional maturity goes awry.
While we continue to crave new and faster technology, as physical beings, we also feel the physical effects of getting what we want. We are becoming isolated and narrow in focus, perpetuating a narrow, superficial, and isolated existence. Human beings were not meant to live in this way. The human spirit needs to be nourished and replenished with work, play, friendship and love. At the core of us, we are emotionally and physically interactive beings. When we lose our ability and the opportunity for emotional connectedness, we are in danger of becoming as inanimate as the technology we so greatly desire.
Our electronic media culture bombards the current world with mass reproduction and reproducibility that can fool the human eye. Reality can become distorted; what’s real and what’s not real? The word, simulacrum means an unreal or superficial likeness, a copy without the original. Photographs, TV, video games, advertising, special effects, and computers are part of our electronic media, offering images so realistically created or altered, they can appear real, even when they are not. This inability to differentiate the real from the not real causes us to question our reality and we begin to mistrust our own perceptions. We begin to believe that nothing is real. This leads to feelings of apathy, hopelessness, and, ultimately, anarchy. If nothing is real, then nothing really matters. We become as robotic as our technological inventions, and just as cold and unfeeling. This is death to a human spirit that requires the warmth of human connection, touch and trust as its foundation. And, the human spirit will not go quietly into the night; it will not vanish without a fight. It will find some other way to express itself, too often in the sensual world of substance abuse and addiction.
A basic knowledge of human development is needed to understand the fundamental nature of the gap that has been created by our technological advancements. Our experiences from birth to age five set in place the neurological foundations upon which future learning depends: self-awareness, self-regulation, communication skills, personal relationships and the ability to learn from cause and effect. When one of these core developmental processes is not successfully navigated, it alters the ability to learn, evolve and mature. As human beings, we respond to and grow from being held, talked to, read to, listening to music, and played with, and pleasurable physical experiences with others. Without these foundations we regress, into human beings with no self-awareness, no self-control, unable to communicate our ideas, needs or desires to others, difficulty making or keeping relationships. And, not aware of what is wrong, we are unable to learn from our mistakes.
This is especially troubling in a wired world of information overload, and becoming more so as technology expands and speeds up its domain. When technology is offered to children too early, during human developmental years, it creates a problem. It may offer an intellectual exchange, but not the nuances of a human exchange. When technology is used as a surrogate caregiver, it creates emptiness within the human spirit.
The word simulation means the process of pretending, an imitation or representation of behavior, of one system through the use of another system. The military, law enforcement and businesses use the technology of virtual reality as a training tool, to train for the real thing. The technology of virtual reality may provide a partial learning experience, an intellectual experience but not a human encounter. It is an incomplete experience that lacks the full inclusion of the five senses, the very senses through which we experience being human. When we become aware and feel a full sensory experience, integrated through a shared physical encounter, it becomes functional, developing a human skill that we can use in future interactions.
As modern technology requires our cognitive self to speed up, the rest of our nervous system lags behind. This ultimately becomes a bridge too far and we create a split within ourselves, pitting technical being against human being: a brain without a body, intellect without emotion.