Save the Humans!

Smartphones, health-care robots, wearable computers and driverless cars – they’re coming, or they’re already here. We are becoming increasingly intimate with the machines that constantly measure, monitor and control our lives. How does this affect our autonomy and our human spirit? And how can the growing global population – already above 7 billion – work together to create humane lives for us all? What’s at stake is the remains of human agency. Let’s use the brain pixels that aren’t yet taken up and Save the Humans!

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The publication

New possibilities, from algorithms to nanotechnology and robotics, challenge us to use our imagination and sometimes lead to a new reality with far-reaching consequences for our life on earth. We must also admit that many new digital applications pose a threat for privacy and our autonomy. This colourfully designed book, featuring quotes by thinkers in the fields of art, science and technology, reveals the state of the free minds of creative people in the 21st century. In an accessible and open yet critical way, it will encourage you to ponder what the recent changes mean for our lives.

The idea and design is by designer and MOTI director Mieke Gerritzen, the book has been produced by Next Nature Network and published by Bis Publishers.

Background

The endlessly growing data stream that serves us more and more information 24 hours a day, bewitches our free mind and is thus an enormous influence on the way people think. Even now, this data is caught in a web of social and economic systems that people can no longer control. In no time we receive throughout the world the same news flashes, we consume the same TV series, change our possessions and eat virtually the same food. All effects that emerge from the systematic circulation of data around the planet.

Evolution teaches us that human beings and technology develop in parallel. But in the past thirty years, since the emergence of net technology, developments take place at a rapid pace and innovations follow each other with increasing speed. So what if the equality changes and technology suddenly starts developing faster than human beings? What happens then? We have, after all, cars that drive themselves. Things around us are getting smarter and support human activities. Your toothbrush, for example, indicates where you need to brush your teeth more thoroughly and your smart watch tells you when your body needs a glass of water. These are examples of things in operation now, and they mark the start of a development known as ‘The Internet of Things’.

The innovations that have developed in recent centuries have considerably improved the quality of our lives; most people have a job and a bank account. Legislation has been made and laws passed to allow us to coexist peacefully, they are achievements that have taken people centuries to reach. Although everything seems well organized, there are now new upcoming problems, such as infobesity and infringement of privacy. Technology has quite an influence on our behavior. We follow and are followed. People become a plaything of the systems that keep the world turning. The big danger is inclusion, incorporation, subtle ways to remain involved, logged in, without even knowing.

The idea that we are losing something of our autonomy is, however, a current issue because tension is now increasing between people and systems. Technology may help us understand the complex network society, it increases the quality of life, but it also creates an extremely bureaucratic and controlling atmosphere.
Time to Save the Humans!

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