Katherine David - Manifesto

1. Human beings should never lose sight of the value of a conversation with a person face to face.

By this, I mean that the rawest form of communication between two human beings, should never be inferior to communication shared only with the help of technology. There is something unique about receiving a hug and “hello” from a person as compared to a quick text from someone saying, “Hi.” The physical interaction and the ability to observe the human emotion between one another makes this difference real. This was brought up during a discussion early in the year about the social changes that technology has brought about. We had just read the article titled, ““Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept.” I’ve adopted this principle because I’ve seen overtime, many of my friends who become truly altogether dependent on technology to foster relationships. When they come into real contact with a person, they are awkward, uncomfortable, and altogether a completely different individual. Society needs to take a step back and remember what it means to share these intimate and genuine conversations with another individual. Put your phones, laptops, and ipods away- take the time to look at the person sitting across from you and talk to them. I think this is of serious importance because while technologies come and go, raw human interaction will never not be a part of our human existence.

2. Humans ought understand how a robot could play a part in their life but at the same time, instances in which only a human being can fulfill that role.

Sherry Turkle talks about human relationships with robots in Chapter 4 of her book. There are certainly tasks where it seems like a robot could do the job of a human. For example, a robot might be able to babysit a child; they could merely turn on the television and keep the child happy until the parents come home. Also, a robot might be able to clean someone’s house- just hand them the vacuum and consider the job finished. Now the question is- could a robot ever comfort someone when they lose a close friend? Could a robot offer you a hug and would you know that they understood how you were feeling? I would beg to differ. While movies like I-robot would have you thinking otherwise, I hope that humans always remain superior to robots in that they have a mind that has not been programmed by another human. They have the emotional intelligence that not machine will ever comprehend. What comes out of their mouth has been thought of instantly and intelligently. We must always recognize the differences in what humans can do vs. what robots can do. The line is often being blurred by those who are gifted with machines but for now, I trust that we as humans can separate ourselves from thess machines. We can applaud robots for the tasks they can and do complete but let’s hope we never allow them the abilities that only humans have. After all, robots only exist because we as humans allow them to.

3. We ought to take a step back and realize why it is important to enjoy alone time with ourselves- quiet, uninterrupted, peaceful silence.

Time alone does not mean we are merely physically by ourselves. This requires us to put our cell phones away, turn our computers off, and locking out all outer distractions. After looking at the course syllabus and reading the title of Turkle’s book, “Alone Together,” I was instantly conflicted with this concept. Does our generation even understand what it means to be really alone? I often find myself hoping to find a break from the influx of distractions that invade my life on a daily basis and unfortunately, often fail. My worry is that without some changes, future generations will be completely lost when alone. Perhaps, maybe put down your gps and read a roadmap. Turn off your cell phone and sit in the quiet for a spell. Deactivate your facebook and make a photo album to pass down to your children rather than post all your pictures online. Turn off your Twitter account and enjoy knowing that no one else knows what you might be doing in the next hour. Think about this- hypothetically, if all of these technologies were to fail us one day- what would we do with ourselves? I have an eerie feeling that many humans, like myself, would feel very disconnected and even scared; separation anxiety could develop just thinking about being alone. Let’s home we learn how to be by ourselves before this ever happens.

4. Human beings ought to know who they are prior to becoming hooked into the technological world.

By this I mean that humans need to love themselves before altering their online identity to fit what they want from themselves. This idea was discussed in Turkle’s “Alone TOgether” chapter 8. For example, we could create a wii character that is seemingly more attractive. We could invent a new life using the computer game Sims- the life we’ve always wanted. While it’s hard to determine whether or not there is a point at which a human being can say that they “fully love themselves and are prepared to go online,” I do believe that knowing one’s self is important. Try mediation instead of surfing the web. Having a real conversation with a relative about past memories rather than reading through your recent notifications on Facebook. Spend quality time with your family and closest friends rather than blogging about your day’s latest adventures. I say all of this because as our generation grows up to have children and serve as role models for the youth below us, there’s no way they have a fighting chance to ever establish who they truly are if they’re constantly being inundated with new forms of technology that allow themselves to “change” who they are.

5. The Internet has the ability to shape the worldview of a human- be open minded, unbiased, and curious.

I believe the Internet can shape one’s worldview if we want it too. Often we are raised knowing one thing and go to the grave thinking the same thing; read the newspaper that favors your political party, watch the news channels that agree with your viewpoints, and filter out information on the Internet that does not go in line with your thought process. Turkle talks about this in “Alone Together” chapter 8; research shows that humans are trying to confirm their worldviews online through our own personal filter bubbles. We can filter out the information we don’t want too read and neglect too look at sources/news online that we may find troubling. Why not try to read about what both parties are fighting for? How about reading an opposing newspaper for once? Take a look on a different news channel and see what they have to say. I argue that humans should do this because we are limiting our human capabilities to think and argue rationally by merely going with the status quo. We as humans learn through difficulty. Give our minds the opportunity to think about what we believe and why we believe it- we’re not hamsters who should just “do what we’re told.” We can only confidently say which “side” we’d stand on if we know what both sides stand for- why not think outside the box for once?

6.Humans should be aware of their online existence in regards to what’s private and what’s not.

Nearly everything you put online can be found- your social security, your birthdate, where you live (you can even see a map of your house!), etc.. Places you search frequently and things you discuss in online chat forums or on social networking sites are recorded. With a little research, virtually everyone can know everything about you. Turkle talks about this value shift in privacy and what it means to us now vs. what privacy used to mean. We are now self-reporting what we do- privacy as we know it is slowly losing it’s worth to us. Mark Zuckerbuerg was quoted saying “Privacy is part of the discourse of the past.” But what about those who still want it? We’ll need to change Facebook norms- make it open to only your friends, take down inappropriate material, and keep your password to yourself. Children are unaware of what they have to put online and what they don’t- remember when writing down your e-mail address was ALWAYS “optional.” Now this is not the case. If we don’t demand to have some part of our intimate and interior selves kept away from the public world, we’ll forever lose the concept of privacy. Companies will use us to modify their ads, hackers will use our identities as their own, and most importantly, I fear that people will lose touch with who they really are.