Are You Addicted To Technology?

In 2018 technology took a leap forward in its quest to control the world. But is it time to shout stop?

What’s the problem?

Technology is used to grab our attention and generate obscene profits for companies that harvest and sell our personal information. The sale of private data has evolved into an industry that uses digital and social media to generate billions of pounds each year. Technology companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Netflix are leaders in the field of data manipulation as they create endless products based on the information they glean about us. They use their almost unlimited resources to turn millions of us into hopeless addicts, as their services create cravings that have a detrimental effect on people’s lives.

Such products are radically different from traditional goods as they are carefully designed to trigger addiction amongst users. Excessive use has a negative effect on physical and mental health, how families interact, and how society functions. Technology has become an essential tool but as millions of us connect to the digital economy there are opportunities to influence swathes of the population. Fake news has already become a hiding place for those in power who refuse to be held to account to the people who vote them into office.

Traditionally, people adapt to new technologies and gain from the related advances. This time it is different however as artificial intelligence elevates technology to a sinister level by making it a 24×7 proposition, changing how people relate to each other, creating profit from personal information, and enabling a small number of companies to generate vast amounts of wealth. The speed and scale of growth of technology companies is unprecedented, not least because turning customers into addicts is built into the core business model.

What’s the solution?

There is a solution however and it lies in figuring out how to reduce the addictive nature of the products they sell. The practice of weaponising artificial intelligence to exploit basic human instincts must be stopped at the product design stage. Companies must change their business models so profits are not dependent on turning customers into addicts.

There are thankfully many things that can be done to address the situation. They include:

  • lobbying politicians to introduce legislation that forces technology companies to stop profiting from the addiction of customers
  • highlighting the additional costs that fall on the health service as a rise in mental health problems floods the next generation
  • raising awareness about the dangers of allowing children uncontrolled access to technology to the detriment of time spent on other activities
  • encouraging those working in technology companies to focus their considerable talents on products that benefit rather than harm society
  • rethinking how best to use social media and digital tracking technology to create better, fairer and more inclusive communities

So, technology has always been used to make lives better but the current trend of turning customers into addicts is wrong and must be stopped.