Sunday, February 08, 2015

Technology is ‘The Other’ with whom Humans Engage the most

The Contemporary Media Environment (CME) is the current situation of the widespread connected world of computing, which features the pervasive presence of technology in an increasingly rich information environment between and amongst human and machine entities.

One aspect of the CME is the increasing emergence of technology as ‘the other’ in the human-technology relation. Humans are now in a wholly new conceptualization and interaction with technology, and also information, where non-human entities are the primary other party in the majority of interactions (Floridi 2014). Technology is ‘the other’ with whom humans are engaging the most.

The theme of the ‘technology other’ has often been explored in film, with the increasing trend of humans and technology being portrayed in full partnership, for example in Big Hero 6 (2014), Her (2013), and Robot & Frank (2012).

Another way that the CME is manifesting the technology other is through embodiment, and in an escalation in the forms and types of human interaction. The technology other is no longer conceived narrowly as Amazon and Netflix recommendations, but instead as a fully-embodied agent. An example of this is robotic personal assistants for home and work like Robotbase’s Personal Robot, MIT’s JIBO, and Amazon’s Echo. Likewise artificial companions, for a variety of functional interaction with humans, may be the next innovation.

A sense of embodiment might also be perceived with advanced voice assistants like Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft’s Cortana; they are a new kind of object-person.

Even beyond technology-as-other is technology-as-partner: the best ‘worker’ for many contemporary jobs in the automation economy, perhaps soon to be the machine economy, is a human and a machine in collaboration (Cowen 2013, Carr 2014).

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