New Horizons: Technology in the 21st Century

Technology; It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time, for me at least. Even now as I type each of my blogs and assignments for Info 287 on my MacBook, I sit back and wonder how technology has impacted our daily lives. Some of us rely on artificial intelligence like our cellphones, Amazon Alexa and Siri so much that if we lose connection for a split second, we go mad. That’s a big conclusion from someone who worked in the IT sector for only a year. I received my undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems and I currently work as a Marketing Analyst. I ask myself these questions often and I know I probably shouldn’t, but will we ever get to a point where technology takes over our lives (not like it hasn’t already)? Can an overload of technology be a negative thing?

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Let’s dive into it. Technology is an addiction. Don’t get me wrong, I love asking my Amazon Alexa to play podcasts (yes, if you didn’t already know, Amazon Music has podcasts!) while I relax and sit on the porch outside in the evenings. I will say that technology has taken over our lives in positive and negative ways. Our cellphones, Alexa, Siri and other A.I. helpers are there to answer our silliest and most pressing questions anytime and every time we ask. We’ve even come to a point where we are thanking them for their assistance. For those of us who have such assistants, forty-one percent have thanked A.I. as if they were human (Terdiman, 2018). That’s absolutely wild (cue I, Robot movie theme), yet this is only one positive aspect of Artificial Intelligence. How about the fact we don’t need to hold cellular devices up to our ears anymore while driving or texting? 

All seems fine until we look at the negative sides of technology. Privacy, security and collecting information without our consent could be considered red flags for new users who want to pick up one of these devices. You may argue that when you set up these devices, they ask you if you want to allow or block your data being sent to the companies for evaluations (e.g. crash logs). True, they do ask you if you want to allow those messages through but some applications on Apple and Android devices do not. Apple has gotten in trouble before because they violated privacy laws by revealing iTunes listening data (Robertson). That’s scary to believe because after all, “what happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone”. If you are an Android user, Google has had their fair share of class action lawsuits relating to privacy violations (Montti). So how does a company like Google or Apple get into trouble? The Android operating system (and iOS for all we know) collects records, measures and information and sends it to their servers so they can build their AI based system (Griffey). This is how your smartphone can pull up pictures when you say ‘Siri, show me pictures from last May’ or ‘Hey Google, show me pictures from my beach trip’. On the other hand, libraries and library vendors could use A.I. technology to create service systems so that our values and ethics are backed into the technology at the outset (Griffey).       

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Shifting to a one-hundred percent technology learning system in schools seems like a distant goal, yet with the current pandemic, students, parents, staff and faculty had to readjust their way of learning overnight. This, in some cases, has resulted in students suffering because they had to learn how to use new applications such as Zoom and Slack. Having younger children learn how to use Zoom can be a daunting task since paying attention in the classroom and at home behind a computer screen are two very different things. I sometimes catch my younger sister ask our Amazon Alexa math and science questions along with vocabulary definitions. This is the equivalent to Professor Stephens asking his Alexa ‘How high is Mount Rainier?’ (Stephens, 2018). To answer Professor Stephen’s question ‘Are Alexa and Siri a voice activated path to the world brain?’, I would have to say yes. Never thought about it that way, but in some sense if all the Amazon Alexa’s, Apple’s Siri’s and Google Nests came together, I think we would have created a brain of unlimited information.

(Photo Credit: @jankolar via unsplash.com)

In the end, balance is key. If you are able to pick up a book instead of downloading an eBook, do so, as it will be an experience you will most likely will never forget. Venture into your public library and check out those newly released movies as it will be an experience you will most likely will never forget. Venturing out, picking up a book and driving to the library can be a part of the everlasting experiences you carry with you throughout your life. Don’t let technology bog you down. Technology can’t replace experiences. 

References:

Griffey, J. (2019, March 1). AI and Machine Learning. American Libraries Magazine.https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2019/03/01/ai-machine-learning-libraries/. 

Montti, R. (2020, July 20). Google Faces New Class Action Lawsuit for Privacy Violations.https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-privacy-lawsuit-android-apps/374952/. 

Robertson, A. (2019, May 28). Lawsuit claims Apple violated privacy laws by revealing iTunes listening data. https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/28/18643146/apple-itunes-privacy-listening-data-disclosure-lawsuit-rhode-island-michigan. 

Stephens, M. (2018, February 22). Flash Briefing: Office Hours. Library Journal. https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=flash-briefing-office-hours. 

Terdiman, D. (2018, January 5). Here’s How People Say Google Home And Alexa Impact Their Lives.https://www.fastcompany.com/40513721/heres-how-people-say-google-home-and-alexa-impact-their-lives. 

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5 thoughts on “New Horizons: Technology in the 21st Century

  1. Jennie Tobler-Gaston says:

    Hi Strantos!
    I really enjoyed this post. I seem to find myself always caught between the new cool technology and the privacy concerns they hold. I switched off my Siri after one too many pointed adds hit my facebook page – it was just a little too creepy for me. I love learning about new technology and diving into it although I always feel like a dunce when I do – but I find it fascinating. I hope in the future there is way we can embrace the new technology, especially AI, without having to sacrifice so much of our privacy.
    Thanks for a great post!
    -Jennie

    • Stratos Xanthus says:

      Hi @jennietoblergaston, I hope so too. I’ve seen what you’re talking about in action. When my family and I are discussing something random then later it appears in our email, on webpages, etc. It’s scary and I hope we can find another solution for the future.

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