Social and Cultural Issues of Interactive Digital Media (KIT311/KIT611)
Semester 1, 2019
Assignment 1 (individual) worth 10% of your total marks "Media assessment"
In the lecture we talked about utopian and dystopian views on technology. While the internet is of particular interest we can use these views to look at the potential impact of any kind of technology, such as poker machines or washing machines or mobile phones.
For this assignment conduct an environmental scan (i.e., reading widely, including popular and academic literatures) about the impact of mobile phones on humanity.
Use both the utopian and the dystopian view to describe the impact of mobile phones on humanity. The discussion should clarify the definitions of 'utopian' and 'dystopian' that your essay is based on.
Do not get caught up in technical details! The assignment is about demonstrating your understanding of utopian and dystopian views, the quality of the sources that your essay is based on (includes reasons for selecting them), and accurately referencing said sources.
Your essay should be between 1,000-1,250 words long, written in standard English, free of grammar and spelling errors, and set in a 12 pt font.
Referencing should follow Harvard style. References need to be attached to the statements that they are meant to support. Page numbers should be provided where possible and appropriate. See the following guide if you are not familiar with Harvard style referencing https://utas.libguides.com/referencing/Harvard
Please submit your essay by the due date as PDF file to the Assignment 1 drop box on MyLO. Please include name and Student ID in the document!
Impact of mobile phones on humanity
The paper introduces the utopian and the dystopian aspect of science and technology. The paper illustrates the impact of mobile phones on humanity. The paper introduces various means to use the already available technology for the greater good. It also sheds light on the advancement of technology in the near future.
‘Technological utopianism' is an ideology based on the fact that advances in science and technology could establish a perfect society where every individual work in collaboration with each other making the world a better place. Simply put advancement in science and technology can help to establish a state of ‘Utopia' (Rambe, and Nel, 2015). The world is currently undergoing a revolution in the field of technology where mobile phones specifically smartphones have become a go-to medium of interaction, communication, and information. A smartphone is a mobile phone which combines the features of a mobile operating system and personal computer operating system. The use of smartphones has impacted every aspect of human life. The most prominent areas where mobile phones impact mainly are in the areas of education, business, social life, and health. The system to portable phones in the form of a computer has enabled people to create their micro-culture and engage in social activities. People have been granted the power to communicate with anyone in any parts of the world sitting in the comfort of their home. Mobile phones provide various media platforms for people to interact with other people. The technology provides the opportunity for them to learn and support the growth of intellectual ability.
With the ease of using applications like social media which provides new avenues to cooperate, paving the way to ensure better ideas that could be implemented in the society. The use of networking in the contemporary world enables the idea of technological utopianism for the present and the future generation. Today every technical devices and system work on the use of networking as a primary source. A leading philosopher in cyber-culture and technology, Douglas Rushkoff claims that technology, in general, provides people with the chance to voice their opinions and fosters visionary thinking. The culture dilutes the hierarchical structures by giving power to the public. He also states that the modern world is undergoing a technological renaissance.
In the late 20th century, several movements and ideologies such as ‘cyberdelic counterculture,' ‘Californian ideology,' ‘transhumanism' and ‘singularitarianism,' emerged to promote the idea of tech-utopia as an attainable goal (Clemens, 2016). Several smartphone applications help people in regards to health and medicine by providing information on the illness, or the disease people are coping with. Individual need to feed the information on the internet, and the output will be a large number of WebPages that discuss the issue. Researchers have found that a mobile phone or a smartphone is changing the way the brain of the person works. Instead of just remembering information, people now remember how to find the information. Smartphones and tablets may also act as textbook "replacements" to find the extra bit of information that a student might need to complete a project work or to prepare for examinations. Lastly, the luxury of handheld devices provides the convenience to save time like scheduling the daily work structure, listing items needed in the grocery shopping or checking the weather of a holiday destination even one month in advance.
The use of technology in mobile devices and their applications are limitless also for future reference. The development in Artificial Intelligence will make the lives of the people much more comfortable by doing the daily work of the individual on his or her behalf (DiGiulio, 2019). AI will enable technology to upgrade itself keeping in mind the need of the future preferences of the people eventually evolving the technological ecosystem. Tasks like daily chores will be done by the AI automatically saving time for more meaningful tasks.
The 1990 movie ‘Total Recall’ shows that people are so busy with their everyday lives in a dystopian world where in order to have an experience of vacations, they are ready to have memory implants of false destinations (Fawcett, 2014). Many researchers and scientists speculate that this kind of technology could be available in the future where memory implants can be used to simulate training of employees in a company to save time and money or to treat PTSD patients (Chum et al., 2011).
The ‘state of technological dystopia’ refers to the suffering and injustice caused by the advancement in science and technology (Lewis, 2017). In the modern world, the technologies used by people have transformed from need into compulsions and further into full-fledged addictions. Mobile phones and especially smartphone has become modern cocaine. People are unknowingly coerced into smartphone addictions through technological manipulation. Use of media platforms and other applications is a way the companies are fulfilling the cravings of the individual for more entertaining content. Applications like YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat among others are used as the needle to inject this modern drug into the brain of young individuals (TechCity. 2019). Companies use the power of persuasion to ensure profits for another company by showing advertisements on their websites. For example – a company pays Facebook to use its levers of persuasion which could be used to provide tailored advertisements based on the searches of the individuals (Vines, Roesner, and Kohno, 2017). This can be said as the violation of individual privacy in layman terms, but the social platforms make sure that the user signs up to the companies agreement for the use of individual data in foxy ‘I agree' policies.
Technology is providing a means to chaos and creating an undesirable society. Many writers and filmmakers have indulged in expressing their views on the context of dystopian technological culture (Piryani et al., 2017). The 1999 film “The Matrix” is a cult science fiction movie directed by Joel Silver which shows the dystopian future in which the human race is unknowingly trapped inside a virtual reality called ‘The Matrix’ which is created by artificial intelligence (Stucky, 2016). Technology is gradually taking the shape of a curse, in which war and poverty is the by-product of the curse.
In the evolving world, people are surrounded by technology and network. The means to protect the privacy of the individual is diminishing. Various confidential government projects involve network surveillance of the population. The government claims that the surveillance will help them to prevent terrorist activities and illegal smuggling. In 2013, Edward Snowden, former CIA operative leaked confidential information from the National Security Agency of US, which contained the details of an illegal NSA program called ‘PRISM’ (Scheuerman, 2014). Under this program, the NSA was collecting private internet interactions of the users. There are many similar incidents where governments were allegedly tracking individual data from their smartphones and computers in the name of national security, all over the world (Greenwald, and MacAskill, 2013).
It can be concluded that technology like handheld devices are changing the way human interaction positively or negatively. People are addicted to their smartphones in the modern world as mobile phones are made into an all-powerful means to provide every kind of information there is. The only way to prevent future dystopia is to create open-source platforms, which can be used to create better devices and ways to prevent becoming part of the technology itself. The paper finally concludes that in the modern technological utopia people have to push boundaries of means to stay interconnected.