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ex-machina

There’s probably many more, and papers written around and about them. As I am not entirely dedicated to the study of Technology and it’s impact on Society all I can share with you is my impression, one that’s formed up in my mind after a few years of reading about Technology, selling IT to Companies and being a heavy user of day-to-day devices. It’s simple actually: no matter how much we embrace Technology, it can’t get us because our very first reaction to it is always the same: suspicion.

It can be argued of course in many ways. You can see how younger generations adopt any and all Technology faster and faster these days and how older ones struggle to understand it. Who of you who’s reading and was born in the 70’s or 80’s doesn’t carry a small notebook in your bag pack and would rather write things down instead of type them in your smart phone? That’s you rejecting Technology at some point.

Professor Masahiro Mori theorized, quite a few decades ago that there’s in effect called the “Uncanny Valley” that presents itself when humans see for the first time an almost-but-not-quite humanoid robot. The more the robot appears to be human, the more we reject it. There’s a lot to it, but it basically means that until robots get to a grade of absolute perfection on their human form and behavior we will always reject them at some point. Here’s my take on the Uncanny Valley effect if you’re interested in reading more about this and if you want a more graphic example, watch Ex Machina, a movie by Alex Garland and from which the image on top was taken.

450px-Mori_Uncanny_Valley.svg

The Uncanny Valley Effect

To me the simple translation of this is that whenever a new Technology is introduced it faces two different and huge groups: the early adopters (usually younger generations) and the resistance (older generations and skeptics if you will) and it is, maybe, the breach that separates both what creates this effect: we do not immediately trust what we see. The first will feel a pull, born from curiosity, to investigate more and will more likely than not, end up adopting new tech. The second will remain suspicious and eventually come to the conclusion that nothing new is to be trusted right away. This apparent difference creates a balance where suspicion remains as the first reaction to whatever Tech is presented to us.

Suspicion, a very human reaction, is what keeps events like the introduction of New Technology at bay.

Much has been said and much will, about how new Technologies can and will empower machines to become sentient, think on their own and eventually come to the conclusion it is them who need to rule the planet, become the dominant species and enslave us all and it seems we’re preparing for that with the fiction around such possible? future. If it comes to Science-Fiction I would rather focus on authors like Isaac Asimov who envisioned a future where our species goes far and beyond our Galaxy, aided and sometimes guided by Technology, or maybe Frank Herbert, who’s futuristic worlds were a clear picture of our fight against our fears to Technology and with good reason of course.

Technology is and will be for a few more generations new to us, and when the time comes that it will not be new instead something that wows us and compels us to use and abuse it, suspicion as much as curiosity and rejection will be there to aid us.

It is then and after all, our own human nature what protects us.

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Also published on Medium.