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We increasingly have technology services available to us that affect our mental, physical and environmental health. How can we make sure its a force for good?

Tech Humanism logo, designed by my brother Connor Bryant

I am a registered member of the Humanists UK group which is a way to counter the massive influence of theism in our world. But nowadays it isn’t religion that’s a threat to self-determination. It’s science itself, in the form of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Social Media. These forces increasingly influence and control us, rather than the traditional religions. This is why there needs to be a new brand of humanism. Tech Humanism. Its aim should be to shape technology’s future by discussing the issues that technology can cause.

Silicon Valley has historically had a Utopian vision that technology will create a better world, but as we have seen from some of the recent controversies, this is not always the case. Here are some of the ways the tech world is taking over the real world:

  • Power

    Amazon has recently passed Alphabet and now trails just behind Apple among the list of the world’s most valuable companies. Many are arguing that they are monopolies that need to be broken up. I’m not totally convinced by this but I do think that ‘self regulation’ needs to end.

  • Cryptocurrencies

    Bitcoin was a revolutionary new way of exchanging money without the need for a bank, but the bitcoin network is now consuming more electricity than 159 Countries combined. There are new technologies set to try and fix this, but will they just create new problems?

  • Blockchain

    The technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is called Blockchain. People are trying to use this technology to solve a whole range of problems in all sorts of industries. I think there is a lot of potential here but there is a lot of hype. Will it actually help to fix the web or is it just another tech utopist vision?

  • Autonomous vehicles

    The rapid spread of smartphones made way for a company like Uber. But what are they going to do for the tens of thousands of human workers who will soon be replaced by automated cars?The Zuk...

  • Social Media

    With its promise to connect the world, studies have actually suggested that extended social media use makes you more anxious, depressed, reduces attention span and makes it harder to sleep. Yet my generation is growing up with a phone in their hands. This worries me. How can we design these services to make them less addictive and less damaging to our health?

  • Fake news

    This is not just about Trump, it’s about distorting people’s views with misinformation even to the extent of changing the outcome of elections. eek. Was this a significant factor in the Brexit vote as well?

  • Artificial intelligence (AI), echo chambers and filter bubbles

    Online everyone is vulnerable to sensationalised, simplistic and opinion-reinforcing information because the primary job of the AI that powers these platforms is to keep you on the site. What can be done to save media and journalism and unite us in our increasingly polarised world?

How Does Technology Shape Us?

Technology will continue to be a massive force in shaping who we are, but when profit comes before morals, society will suffer. Tech humanism needs to identify and discuss the issues that come up – and look for potential solutions. In my view, this should be coupled with a new wave of techy social entrepreneurs that should be focused on increasing the benefits that technology can provide for us. This is exactly what I want to do.
 


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