Growing Up with Connected Private Watson Machines – Meaning of Life

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.

In our post The 4th Industrial Revolution and the Meaning of Life we suggested some thinking steps for directing the thinking about the question:

“What are the consequences for the Meaning of Life by the fusing developments in information- and biotechnology?”

Our efforts

We followed the next steps:

  1. raw draft of hunches and intuition, in 20 minutes on 4 sheets
  2. short essay
  3. summary

We choose from the list two phrases:

  • It is not anymore ¨my¨ brain, it has become the ¨the¨ brain. Then, who am I?
  • Children growing up in a hybrid world of physical and virtual reality.

It has been fun and the exercise invited us to read more, and more, and more. But the most fun, and in our opinion the ultimate goal, is to use all the ingredients in our head and knit that to a conclusion. The good thing is, that it cannot be wrong because nobody knows what the future will be, so, there is room for speculation!

It is not anymore ¨my¨ brain, it has become the ¨the¨ brain. Then, who am I?

At this moment. Internet services are voluntarily paid with personal data. From the use of social media, you might derive that in general the meaning of life is intended as “Look at Me”. Many companies begin to monitor the social media accounts of their employees and to use them as a selection tool (likes, actives, followers, opinion). Other data are unconsciously collected: public and security cameras in police stations, psychiatric institutions, in streets, in trains and busses. Often unintended by the residents, companies are watching them via television monitors, smartphones or laptops.

In the short time (1-5 years). Most machines in houses have become connected with a scale of measuring sensors to the Internet. When combined, these data might give a rather exact impression of your daily habits. It is totally unclear who is getting and uses those data for what, and if some third party uses it, f.i. the data of your coffee machine, your electric step with GPS or your wine cooler. What conclusions from the data might be derived, one thing is for sure. It will be based on casual correlations, not on cause-effect chains. The meaning of life is “Make things easier”. However, as a reaction to the massive intrusion of privacy, the first digital Dada manifestations are beginning to take place.

In the medium term (5 – 25 years). All that data is collected in private Watson machines where it by Artificial Intelligence is analyzed. You can pose questions to your Personal Watson about ethical choices and who you really are. It is a kind of pastor. The meaning of life is determinism. You can’t change yourself, your-real-self is on the blockchain.

. In the long term (over 25 years). Private Watson machines can interact with other Private Watson machines, so they can learn from each other. Advise, like friends, drips down to the individual user of a Private Watson machine. Coupled Private Watson machines start to reach consensus on behavioral norms. They will replace God, the One who knows everything and will be studied by modern theologists. Actually, they are consensus building machines on a world scale about the meaning of life.

Children growing up in a hybrid world of physical and virtual reality.

Children growing up in a hybrid world of physical and virtual reality.
Humans have co-evolved with technology. There are numerous ways in which technology have shaped our social and psychological capabilities. What are the implications of growing up in a hybrid world? Can a child distinguish between fantasy and reality and what are the differences between physical and virtual reality? What does it mean to live in a world that is technologically constructed? What does it mean that technology becomes part of the expression of self?

At this moment. The Internet today, blurs the boundaries between the virtual and real worlds. Yet, there is a distinction. Young children are growing up in a world with mobile phones, computers, the Internet, handheld gaming devices, TVs and game consoles. They communicate via text messages and instant messages. They interact and socialize via avatars in online games, and via Facebook. They also early develop a sense of ownership via personal blogs and Flickr.
Children can understand the concept of pretending by the time kids can communicate well enough for psychologists to study them: “As soon as you can ask them a question that they understand (about fiction versus reality), they get it correct.” Humans are social beings and we share mirror neurons that allow us to match each other’s emotions unconsciously and immediately. We rely on cooperation to survive and thrive.

In the short time (1-5 years). Children are used to communicating via social media and they can easily operate machines in the home. They are not scared of technology; they regard as it a natural part of their environment. There is a focus on new technology being more inclusive and sustainable. Using robot vacuum cleaners and connecting the family members with the help of a voice assistant is part of everyday life. The relationship with technology is that it is a friend. But there is a clear distinction between the “real” and “virtual” world. Yet, children are relying more and more on technology to judge their own as well as other people’s feelings. The well-being and the meaning of life are slowing being transferred from the child to machines and robots.

Medium term (5-25 years). The new way of communicating is slowly changing the view on social relationship. Many young people are beginning to question the need of social relationship. There are searching for the meaning of life by embracing technology. They start to save money for microchip implants, and they believe that the evolution of humans requires a merge with technology.

In the long term (over 25 years). Technology has evolved and life on Earth is becoming boring and predictable for the generation growing up surrounded by technology. They are feeling lost and that they cannot evolve. Luckily there is a solution – habitable planets beyond our solar system can now be colonized by Earth migrants. These distant planets provide isolation for new human species to evolve. The strong genetic wiring means that they are exploring the benefits for social relationships with other human beings.

Next post

After exploring the future meaning of life as a belief system and as an influence from the 4th Industrial Revolution, in the next post, we will explore what the meaning of life could be in the future as an individual quest. Starting questions might be:

  • Who am I?
  • What should I do in life?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Who determines what is a meaningful life?
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