Over the past decade the world has become more connected. Physical infrastructure that powers actual movement of the human race has seen vast improvements as new trade, commerce and political routes open up. It is the other form of connectedness that has me worried, the digital kind. Long celebrated for making the world a village, an ideal that carries with it a desire for connectedness and collaboration bubbling with positivity, a critical look will show that far from it we are more fragmented, indifferent and disconnected than ever before.
Access to information and knowledge is supposed to bring about understanding, to open us up to new ways of living and acceptance free of stereotypes and dogma that has beleaguered us for ages. However, trouble lurks in the very tools that we use daily, crafted by humans under corporations big and small whose influence disappears in the scale at which they operate. From the social networks that we patronize to the search engines that satisfy our curiosity, are we better off from using them?
Experiments have been and continue to be conducted on humans. Our expectation of this in the past has been that the best and brightest are hard at work figuring out solutions to our most pressing challenges such as in healthcare and agriculture. We feel that since we can connect, make our voices heard, organize, picket, reach and activate populations half way across the world, purchase and consume at will, that we control our narrative and are masters of our lives. This may not be the case when you consider that the version of the narrative that is finally heard may not be in your control and neither is the emotion that you may have wished to elicit.
The agenda seems to have changed in the pursuit of sociopolitical world domination. Driven by algorithms that power curation and recommendation, coupled with big data fed by our uninhibited sharing online, we have given unfettered access to our minds to a chosen few who are effectively controlling how the world thinks, feels, sees and behaves.
The tastes, interests and opinions of the billions connected through technology may have set us down a path where we lose our humanity. If we continue to cede control of our lives and leave it to engineered systems to determine and form who we are on the back capitalistic motives, we will have truly lost our souls.