Getting lost in the digital forest
This post is a summary of my past talks and lectures on human transformation caused by the ongoing digital evolution of Internet Of Things. Currently we see the Internet of Things merging humanity from Wide Area Networks (WAN) over Local Area Networks (LAN) to Body Area Networks (BAN). Internet connected devices will penetrate our homes, cars, body or just everything and everywhere of our daily life – from birth to death.
This is not only technical evolution. The Internet of Things is an evolution of mankind. An evolution which is not progressing by random. Many technical devices and services are resulting in the philosophical framework of tech industries, mainly developed in the early 40s, 50s and 60s and now enhanced in the Silicon Valley. It’s the purpose of technology to “serve” humans and enhance their capabilities. Today we see digital assistants growing everywhere. The voice controls at home enhanced with AI are just the beginning. Silicon Valley’s product development is driven to assist. Virtual AI assistants will burden the tasks of our daily life and we can focus on the important aspects of life. So far so… I don’t know.
A second important aspect of the tech industry is focusing on life span. Technology is used to track and measure our behavior, mood, health conditions and vital signs. All of that, to support in healthier living: less stressful, improved Cardio training, weight control and optimized mental health. We do not need to be aware of our body and mind. The tech industry is providing assistance for every aspect to expand lifetime.
The digital transformation is also a transformation of skills
Assistance everywhere. What’s their impact on human personality? It is one aspect of human personality that we grow our own skills by tackling challenges. In a world, full of digital assistance less challenges will may leading into a less opportunities to acquire skills for shaping personality.
Let’s travel back in time, and follow me on a true story of my childhood
35 years ago, when I was a kid I loved to explore nature. Being an adventurer stepping into the deepest German Forrest (nearby my parents’ house) to get deeper into, than ever as a kid before. Walking beside the paths into darkest Forrest was part of the game – the challenge to explore new own routes in an unknown territory. One time I got completely lost. No glue on the right direction to get out of the forests and find the way back to home. Time passes by and the day was going to end. I know that my mother was expecting me to return from playing outside, which was adding additional pressure on the challenge to find my way out of the dark woods. At one point of this challenge I was seriously thinking about to build a shelter to spent the night or may the rest of my life in that jungle. It was frightening and disappointing to imagine to have no way out and getting completely lost. But building a shelter was only the last option. While the sun was setting, I continued to search a path back home. And somehow in the deepest minutes of being lost, my search on finding a path was successful. I found a way leading out of the deep Forrest and back home to my parents, just for the right time agreed.
This was a basic lesson for life, shaping personality. Even if the situation seems hopeless lost, I managed by own skills to get back orientation. What a great feeling to manage this challenge and what good experience on own capabilities to grow a self-confident personality.
Gaining skills in the digital area
Today my daughter is ten years old. She is growing up in connected and full assistant world. The forest is no more an unknown wild territory – as we it is a full sensor equipped a monitored environment (to be honest: at my company digital worx and LoRa Networks we are working on agriculture and forestry Internet of Things Platforms, so Daddy is building on the environments, as well). Smartphones take care of us, as we can track and trace ourselves by geo services of Google and Apple. Getting lost is a challenge in this connected environment. By the fully connected and assistant digital world, this seems not easy.
But what does this mean for the growing personality of my child? Where can she explore situations “out of control” to train skills to solve the problem of being lost.
The answer is might not easy. We can’t protect our children from immersive technology in childhood forever, as with digitalization the connections will start more earlier and technology is more bonding. My experience of “getting lost” is something which is gone forever in the upcoming generation. May it’s the same “losing” of skills than to light a camp fire only with two wood sticks – an essential experience and skill mankind needed more than 30.000 years. We’ve lost that ability and for sure we certain important challenges to develop personality. But on the other side we were facing new challenges (WTF, where is the lighter!) and we developed new skills.
But at all we did not outsources our tasks and challenges to digital assistant systems. This may the biggest change we are now facing in history.
So, the solution is might absurd. Turning back from tech is not possible, or limited to quite exclusive situations and controlled environments. So maybe tech industries will fill the gap of skill training by assisted programs to support the generation of my daughter with “augmented” and “virtual” trainings. Just to serve personalized tasks and training to develop skills, which are needed to challenge the digital full connected and assisted life.