Information Overload

As we humans continue to push forward to advance our technology in every way possible, there are some very real aspects that get lost in this journey. One of those main aspects is how the technology will affect us socially. I find this fascinating and have written about something similar in another post before, but certainly this article does touch on a few of those same ideas that I find interesting.

The article discusses how much technology has changed our social structure in just a few short years. From dating to meeting new people, to finding a job, so many different aspect of our lives many of which we do not even thing about, which is quite scary. But one thing I did think was interesting, and something that I have thought about before, is the idea of how much information is readily available at any given moment. Never in recorded history has so much information been so easily accessible and readily available to humans.

In the olden days only a hand full of people had the knowledge, to well basically everything. Over hundreds of years we have slowly drifted away from this hierarchy. But now we are moving faster and faster toward a society where near infinite information is available at our very fingertips. I think for the most part this is a good thing, but I am sure we all know of people who seem to live their lives online rather than in the real world. What I mean is that they are constantly posting on social media and seem to never put their phone down always looking for updates or checking emails or what have you. I took this excerpt from the article mentioned above-

Even receiving ordinary new pieces of information, like a text message or an email after refreshing your browser, triggers the brain to release dopamine.

What is very interesting is that we are wired and have evolved to want more information. I think this goes back to our cave man days when the unknown often meant death. Having just limited information in that world would have drastically increased the chances of survival. While that is all well and good now that we, for the most part, do not have to worry about being eaten by a tiger or lion, we still crave more and more information. The bizarre thing is that now we finally have access to it.

A new report from Zenith Optimedia estimates people spent eight hours a day consuming media in 2015, and a recent comScore study reported that the time individuals spent on smartphones consuming digital media increased by 90% from 2013 to 2015 in the US.

Another thing that is alluded to in the article is a sort of capitalistic informational society, where information is what is valued. I would argue that we are stepping closer to those ideas now. I believe that information is highly valued currently, but I do not think it is as extreme as the article makes it out to be. I believe the author gives us humans too much credit. Personally I think those mostly consuming the information as the above statement suggest are those on social media. So while they are consuming information, I would argue that it is mostly irrelevant. Knowing your third cousin just found a quarter in the grocery parking lot, I would argue, is hardly important or relative information.

What I find most fascinating is that getting an email or a text message actually triggers a physical response, that is simply amazing, and at the same time quite scary. Even though cyber space cannot be touched it certainly has a very real impact on the physical world.

The above article also talks about how an AI could help us prioritize all this info that we have available. That would be great I suppose, but I am not sure it would make that much of a difference. There are only very rare occurrences that I cannot find the exact answer that I am looking for. So the AI would only be truly helping on a very small number of instances. I mean think about the last time you Googled something and could not find any answer? Probably has not happened. The AI could help us find the answer faster but at that point we are just splitting hairs.

Going forward I cannot even begin to speculate how these ideas will affect humans. The constant influx of information or distraction for that matter, I would argue, is causing us to skirt contemplating our morality which is neither a good or bad. I also do not think that everyone when they have a free moment is thinking about their death. (I discuss this further in the link attached to my post above.) No one wants to think about that constantly, but could this constant stimulation be changing the human condition to where those thoughts never occur at all. Could there be a time in the future where death is never on a person’s mind. Will the human condition of the future change to something along the lines of how we deal with all the available information instead of our inevitable deaths.


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