Patterns of People: Cyber Consciousness
By Adriane Borden
We’ve long considered human beings to be totally separate from artificial intelligence. Now, we’re coming to the realization that natural and artificial beings are becoming permanently interconnected.
As technology is becoming one of us, it is becoming one with us. Modern technology and conveniences mean we use less of our barbarian brain from day to day, leaving space that technology is quickly filling. According to NPR, “our ancient food-foraging survival instinct has evolved into an info-foraging obsession.” While this exposure is transforming our brains, technology is also adapting and synchronizing with humans—becoming more responsive to subtle human behaviors, and quickly learning to imitate and even leapfrog it. As designers and engineers continue to explore this symbiotic relationship, they are also transforming our experiences, data-based services, and asset performance through improved analytics, while requiring new forms of collaboration between consumers and their technology.
Read on to see how this trend is coming to life today…
Differences are no longer barriers; communities are becoming networks. We have evolved beyond a “global community.” We now disregard differences in demographics such as location, language, or gender. We seek to understand each other beyond traditional demographics; instead, we analyze search histories, Facebook “likes,” Instagram follows, reposts, Snapchat stories, and other behavioral records. In an effort for companionship and connection, we check our phones an average of 150 times a day: alone at lunch, in the elevator, and at every moment we desire to be connected to our community. As we mentioned in a previous report, Layered Realities, fictional characters and digital personas have become just as important as our “real-life” friends.
We are ever more connected through our technology, and less connected to others in traditional ways. “Over 40% of Millennials believe that losing their phone would be a bigger hardship than losing their automobile.” Why? Because our phones are our connectors. Once, a car symbolized freedom to America’s youth; now, it’s a phone. The phone represents immediate gratification; it connects us to our personal network.
Interpersonal communication between generations will evolve as we move into the future. Many supply industries will experience the introduction of new technologies that create entirely new ways of serving existing needs; this technology with significantly disrupt existing industry value chains.
SYMBIOTIC EMOTIONAL CYCLE
Our machines are becoming empathetic to our moods. Human brains release a hit of dopamine every time we log onto our phones. Each hit causes us to search for more oxytocin, “the cuddle chemical,” feeding the evolution of our brain and our addictive love for technology.
By tracking and decoding our emotional state in real time, technology uses the data to design emotional outputs, creating a symbiotic relationship cycle. The more that technology can tap into our emotions, the stronger our bond is becoming. Innovations like Mindclones are creating software versions of our minds based on the thoughts, recollections, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, preferences, and values we provide as input. These have been tested with elderly and children and have successfully built emotional bridges and created attachments.
Forms of this technology are even starting to be used in retail. Companies like Emotient (recently bought by Apple) are compiling enormous databases of human emotions, and utilizing technology that analyzes consumers’ faces to discover their unspoken feelings. As our technology develops a consciousness like that of a loved one, we will need to consider a new code of ethics between humans and machines.
As we develop the same empathy toward our tech as we traditionally have held toward other humans, eventually our technology will have to reteach us how to be empathetic. Physical products and services can now be enhanced with digital empathy capabilities that increase their value, so that our machines will routinely respond to the way we feel.
THE EXPERIENCE SPECTRUM
Technology is evolving beyond just automatic functionality, in order to create sensorial and emotional experiences. Today, tech has moved beyond tailoring, customizing, and recommending; instead, it is learning the complexity of humans and creating automatic, immersive experiences without boundaries. We touched on this topic in a previous report, Sensorial Branding: as our environment becomes more digital and less physical, we desire to explore our senses in spaces where we haven’t before.
We look to learning bots to learn for us and relay complex information back to us in a simplified manner. Automatically, Siri reads directions and tells jokes; Echo plays the song you’re in the mood for; Nest warms your house to the perfect temperature. None of these things are new to us, but how they are affecting our expectations of an experience has evolved. We’re used to having 100% of the contextual data provided to us by our machines. When we remove the context, we become anxious, vulnerable and unsure.
Innovative companies will continue to pursue the seamless fusion of technologies (physical, digital, and biological). As our expectations for experiences rise higher than ever, we’ll never be content with what we had in the past. Some experts are calling this the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This revolution will enable us create the future we have so often envisioned.
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