STOCK Digital transformation
An urgent rethink is what's called for to get us off the only-digital mode. Image Credit: Shutterstock

The Internet of Things has undoubtedly brought many pleasant things to our lives. While it will likely continue to do so, there are subtle ways in which technology is making humanity worse. Let’s examine some of the serious drawbacks to the progress devices and connectivity have achieved so far.

We’ve become too exposed to discrimination Research shows that AI can be biased. Algorithmic bias manifests when we often leave traces of human bias while creating AI. This exposes many users to discrimination online. Technology also somehow mainstreamed hate speech, racism and cyberbullying.

Unfortunately, all this often turns into real-life violence and Big Tech alone can’t crack down on such issues. Therefore, this remains a major concern impacting many internet users. There is a lot of work to be done to tackle issues of social injustice online, and address internet-enabled oppression, which we see more of in times of war and civil unrest.

We’ve become less authentic

The idealistic portrayal of ourselves online and through technology is widespread. We’ve become focused on aesthetics more than on our intellect somehow, especially in the influencer community. Our cultural ideals have shifted.

We’ve become more concerned about what others think of us rather than on being happy. Not being true to your authentic self can lead to anxiety, depression, frustration, addiction, and a lack of meaning and fulfillment in life. In business, consumers are becoming smarter in identifying inauthentic content. That’s where brands have a role to play in ensuring their influencer marketing content isn’t perceived as impersonal, generic or commercial.

We’ve become impersonal

Technology has brought the world closer together but widened the distance between people. As a result, we’ve become connected but alone. Technology has somehow erected a barrier between people.

In the presence of this ‘digital wall’, we’ve lost some of the human touch in interaction. Many people today prefer texting or emailing instead of calling or meeting. Many sit together in the same room with their heads bowed to their devices.

Technology has modified human behavior by creating a gap between people and reducing intimacy. The impact of this shift on parenting and child development in particular is alarming. With robots and AI increasingly replacing human resources, human-machine interaction is set to expand.

We’ve become slaves to our own devices

Our devices and the apps on them are so essential that in-person conversations are becoming rare. In-person conversations tend to be richer, more persuasive and genuine. In-person also creates more harmony and builds rapport.

Body language and tone of voice are some of the most important building blocks of effective interaction, but can be ‘lost in translation’ in virtual communications. Social media and device addiction is a reality. Unplugging has become nearly impossible and it will get tougher in the years to come.

We’ve become overloaded with information Brands, marketers and influencers are feeling the growing pressure to create more and more content, in order to compete and succeed. Massive volumes of content are making their way online, from academic papers to news and insights.

This doesn’t only lead to information overload, it also leads to quantity over quality. But the good thing about clutter is that it inspires creativity. The more creators, and content out there, the more competitive it is to attain a share of voice, and so this creates an urge to become more creative with your content. AI writers, wearables and other content creation tech is enhancing creativity.

We’ve become more vulnerable to cyber attacks A recent survey by a US and UK-based security firm, revealed that nearly 40 per cent of employees working from home adopt weak cyber-security practices, compared to those working from the office. The omnipresence of technology made us susceptible to hackers, as individuals and businesses. And even governments.

Last year, governments saw nearly 2,000 per cent increase in ransomware attacks globally. The healthcare sector suffered from almost 800 per cent increase in such attacks last year.

We’ve become unscrupulous data-reapers

Public and private data is in danger of descending into a hopeless muddle thanks to technology that is failing to properly protect personal data. US companies paid 400 per cent more in ransom payouts last year compared to the previous year.

Many of us do not realize how much data we are willingly sharing, and how much this data is worth. The tracking technology of cookies is coming to an end in 2023. With Web3, websites will interact directly with one another and with users, diminishing the the power of middlemen like Google and Facebook. This creates a decentralized online space where users maintain control over their data and interact directly with one another.

We’ve become highly commercial

A big shift from influencer marketing to ‘influencer sales’ has been taking place across the board over the past few years. Brands, influencers and social media platforms have been increasingly and aggressively monetizing content—which makes business sense.

Take the shopping tech integration into platforms like Instagram back in 2019 for example. I expect to see more social commerce powered by tech tools aimed at monetizing content.

We’ve become prone to health issues

Reduced physical activity, poor posture and eyestrain are causing chronic health issues and sleep disorders.

We’ve become less empathetic

We’re meaner online! It’s easier to be mean hiding behind a messenger. We’ve also become more accustomed to online violence.