Written by Ella Pitt
I’m often struck by the paradoxes of living in the 21st century. It seems to me as though recent decades have been marked by both the absolute embracing of change as well as the utter revulsion of change, and quite often both at the same time. Our relationships with the ever-advancing technological world is a tumultuous talking point that’s encouraged an almost obsessive amount of coverage. It’s part and parcel of ordinary life to see stories about people camping outside of stores to get their hands on the latest launch in the same week as hearing all about how smart technology is rotting the brains of our youths or providing the government with too much intelligence.
I think there’s a good reason why we all keep going back to this moment of indecision and a good reason why there seems to be no bottom line or overarching answer to the question of whether we love or loathe technological advance. We want newness and excitement and inventions that make our lives easier; we want to impress our friends and family and a lot of technology is, to put it simply, very cool! But, as humans, we are also prone to obsession, anxiety, greed, fear and measuring our internal worth against external markers of value.
Nice new things quite quickly become far more complex when they become tied to the ways we socialise, spend our free time and make a living. It’s that last one that has piqued my interest recently and I’ve been considering the kinds of jobs in which I’d least like to see a technological revolution changing. I think the most obvious observation to make is that, when it comes to communication, most of us don’t want to let go of the opportunity to interact with another human.
Its forecast that as time goes by we will find a way to replace more and more workers with machines and robots. That being said, there is something about telling a story to somebody else and having them really listen that I think we will struggle to be able to replicate with a robot. Whether is inherent to our very being or learnt behaviour solidifying itself over centuries, the comfort of eye contact and the right amount of physical contact is undeniable. Many jobs may be replaceable with robots and I’m sure there’s an argument to be made for machines being able to outperform us. Despite all of that, I know I am not in the minority by needing conversation with other people to feel fulfilled.
There’s something so uplifting and exciting about the fact that we cannot plan for or predict all of the conversations that we will have throughout the week. We don’t know whether it will be a Monday morning catch up with a co-worker or finding common ground with the barista in your coffee shop that stays with us for the longest until we’ve lived them both. Organic human reactions to something that has happened or something you need to share is so inherent to the way we live our lives that no amount of dystopian novels and films have been able to convince me that we could happily give it up just yet!
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez