Tuesday, 24 May 2011

IT: Information Trauma

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology
has exceeded our humanity.
--Albert Einstein
When Einstein said this, there was no Information Technology in the present sense of the expression. But no technological discipline has proved him more true than Information Technology.

While we continue to advance technology, we are also falling under the spell of the “rhetoric of the technological sublime” and unable to see the illusory capabilities of technology. The virtual world of cyberspace has many attractions. But it is also a dirge-like ode to the seclusion of people hardly aware of themselves, their family, and their society. Think of those who fall down dead of exhaustion while playing computer games for days together. Think of those absorbed endlessly into web surfing, email exchange, downloads, and other computing paraphernalia. Think of those who have given themselves up 24/7 to meet the professional challenges of technology and market. The elemental urges of an increasing number of IT zealots seem to be computation and competitive advantages rather than self preservation and sociability.

Is the insatiate human hunger for computing similar to the one that began in the Garden of Eden? A recent Stanford University study found that 14 percent of computer users neglected work, family, food, and sleep in order to remain online. The American Medical Association wants to classify Internet obsession as a psychiatric disease. Chinese psychologists recognize Internet addiction as a condition similar to compulsive gambling or alcoholic dependence, and camps are held to treat Internet addicts. In South Korea counselors wean children away from spending long hours on the Internet.

Meanwhile, the online world continues to expand unabated. Virtual reality mongers could not have been happier, if they still know what happiness is! The hiding places computer leads to is the antithesis of what IT utopians glamorously call “the global village” and “the society of the spectacle,” predicted in the 1960s. The computer has redefined the traditional relationship between humans and humans, and humans and machines, while humans adjust their evolution to the machine.

In the book iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind neuropsychiatrist Dr Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan say that digital technology is altering the human neural circuitry. “This evolutionary brain process has rapidly emerged over a single generation . . . . Although the science behind the way technology affects behavior and mental state is only in its infancy, initial observations indicate important links between extensive brain exposure to new technology and mental disorders.”

In Ape and Essence Huxley depicts mankind as concerned only with war and technology and so removed from reality that humans have become unintelligent animals spiraling toward World War III. Faust warns that certain kinds of power come at a price of what we hold most uniquely human. Are we paying too high a price for the power of technology? Perhaps. We need to steer the course of technology to create a human-centric community rather than passively experience the power of technology in a technology-centric community. 

The story of my recently published novel SILICON SELF (please visit my publisher's website www.etreasurespublishing.com)  revolves around computer addiction, computer-mediated lives, and solitary Internet habits of those who never let normal human living come between themselves and their computers.

Here I give a two-para synopsis of SILICON SELF  to interest readers in  the novel. Let us discuss and involve as many people as possible in this most important issue of our times. My blog address is novelstoday.blogspot.com.

Two-Para Synopsis of Novel SILICON SELF

Anderson is developing software to speedily reach the leading edge of IT, not letting normal human living come between himself and his computer. His wife Nora wonders how dangerously close to the edge can he go, and whether the folly of ignorance is less dangerous than that of too advanced technologies? She tries to wean him away, determined to save her family and the world from at least one technology leader.

In the blinding rush to be ahead in technology, Anderson and his peers build up an expensive IT solution, but only to find that there is no problem needing it. To discover or invent a problem for a ready solution is known as “solving the solution.” While striving to solve the solution, their ISP breaks down and they lose Internet connectivity. They struggle to find their worlds outside the Internet. Cut off from virtual reality, they cannot cope up with any reality, and are constantly in conflict with themselves, their colleagues, and their environment. Their encounters create comical situations.