TED Conversations

Luis Almeida

Associate Professor of Communications Media, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

This conversation is closed.

The idea that we can emulate the machine, without experiencing side effects, is dangerous.

The human brain wasn’t made to process large amounts of information continuously without rest. Our brains have limited capacities, will get tired, and break down overtime if we continue to abuse them. It isn’t rocket science or science fiction, it is plain common sense. The idea that we can emulate the machine, without experiencing side effects, is dangerous.

In reality, societies are already emulating the pace of living of the machine and setting societal norms based on computer behavior. We are using smartphones and iPads at the dinner table, tweeting about an emergency first before calling for help, and working not from 9-to-5 but from 9-to-forever.

We are constantly being bombarded by email alerts, facebook notifications, tweets, texts, etc and working during vacations and almost always well into the night. And we let that happen to us.

It is only after a total technology burn out from mental exhaustion and fatigue that folks will stop their computer-like neurotic behaviors.

The TEDx talk titled, "Breaking Free From technology" can be of value to this discussion.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3u2VasrA4M

This Hongkiat blog entry can also illuminate the idea.
http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/reboot-humanity/

:)

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  • Jan 29 2014: This is true, there is way too much overload with regard to information in the city life of your average citizen in the west. But to some degree this is also a choice, you do not need to own a mobile phone, noone has to have a laptop outside work etc. So you can cut down this overload yourself. THis is also a result of our highly mechanical way of life, meaning we make use of the mechanical metaphor to live. It is this way of life which has produced the vast environmental problems we now possess. Fundamentally human beings are not machines and the brain is not a computer no matter what computer scientists would like to believe.
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      Jan 31 2014: Sure, it is a choice. Still is. Sometimes, it is an unconscious (maybe often) choice due to numbing, which is a media effect advanced by Marshall McLuhan. Kind of but until a severe burn out occurs, machine behavior might return. This is the danger. 100% agree with the last sentence. It will be tough to convince the top technological research based universities about this counter argument presented, tough. :)
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    Feb 21 2014: Luis,
    Not to worry. I have come to believe that with too many of the world's people tweeting and booking and passing totally frivolous information will have their needs for more and better technology keep ballooning outward until the bubble breaks. When the world goes dark after the last IPhone is pugged into charge, civilization as we have come to know it will fail to exist.
    there will be some survivalists in the Washington State mountains and tribes in the Amazon jungles, but the rest of us are pretty much doomed. Maybe as the next reiteration of humans will do a better job of using technology as a tool and not a world religion.
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      Feb 22 2014: Indeed. Technology is a tool nothing more than that. Sooner or later, the bubble will break and serious psychological effects will occur. It is coming. :)
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    Feb 20 2014: You are right, of course, that humans all too often struggle to avoid being distracted by the great swell of information and stimuli with which we are surrounded in modern life and also that many people work or live for long stretches of time without rest, to some degree likely sacrificing creativity and alertness in the process.

    You may find interest in this delightful TED talk on The Power of Time Off: http://www.ted.com/talks/stefan_sagmeister_the_power_of_time_off.html
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      Feb 22 2014: Thanks for reaching. Maybe, it will take a major intervention, like a global burn-out, for folks to realize the importance of resting and that computers are nothing more than machinery. We need to control our lives. Thanks for sharing the TED link.
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    Feb 20 2014: What is really obvious and alarming is usually unnoticed by our endless crowds of consumers. In spite that we can communicate all over the globe using our tech devices often sharing meaningless information - we do not help ourselves understand one another and what is really happening to us any better than millennia ago.


    Every living form is unique. In spite of this fundamental law of nature, our manmade society assumes a fictional, collective prototype that does not exist in nature. It is a construction not geared for the good of the individual, but for a purpose of controlling many people, manipulating their mentality and needs. However, our minds become so occupied slaving for our brainless profit-driven systems that we no longer take time to contemplate who we really are and what we are physically and mentally consuming and becoming.

    The very ignorance about our own human nature in whole, about why we must have our Limitations and Perceptions of ourselves unseparated from the rest of nature, I think, is the major problem. Just like small children we want to play with everything possible to reach - staying blind and deaf to the rest of the world. We have no clue where our games might take us... we are unable to comprehend our reality.

    For millions of years animals and plants communicate instantly in great distances, "informing" about their conditions within nature's change - they use no artificial devices or words or any artificially produced energy.

    Humans are behind the whole living world on this planet in sense of sound intelligence. We get excited for the wrong reasons and create psychotic "lifestyle". We have to change our recycling mentality in terms of our human participation in this living world - before it is too late.
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    Feb 3 2014: "It is only after a total technology burn out from mental exhaustion and fatigue that folks will stop their computer-like neurotic behaviors."
    Would be nice if burn out happens before technology controls thought processes through the air.
    If a person does not wish to emulate the machine, then studying ways of life before the machine arrived may expose a solution.
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      Feb 22 2014: True. The underlying issue is that folks are often unable to see how the technology is affecting them. We can only fix a problem when the patient recognizes that there is a problem in the first place. :)
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    Feb 19 2014: We're definitely in the thrall of these ever-advancing technologies, and increasingly harassed by them. Ironically, the design and function of these devices often mimic features of our own physiology [the machine can emulate us], and although this may explain our apparent affinity with them, they can consume our energies and divert our attention to a point which seriously undermines our mental and physical well-being.

    The machinations of sophisticated microprocessor chips may eventually exhaust our most highly developed cerebral cortices, but what of the heart, the soul, the imagination of such a device; and where does it go for lunch?
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    Jan 30 2014: .
    It is INVALID HAPPINESS.
    It will kill our selves.
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      Jan 31 2014: Ting, yes. It is already killing/debilitating millions. It is going to get worse prior to getting better.
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      Jan 31 2014: Hi Brendan,

      Not yet. It seems to be an interestiing line of inquiry that is worth watching. Yes, there is research advancing the idea of rest from screen prior to sleeping and such. It is, in fact, an old paradigm. What seems to be pressing are explanations to what happens to human being after heavy machine interaction, and a potential consequence from it. The Almeida Computer Behavior Hypothesis is only one explanation to what happens in practice. :)