Home Personal Psychology Cognitive The Psychology of Technology Embedment in Humans: Opportunities, Threats and Preventative Measures

The Psychology of Technology Embedment in Humans: Opportunities, Threats and Preventative Measures

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From DNA research and the technologies arising from this research, we now have access to a large amount of information about our ancestors and even the diseases we are likely to encounter in our lives. From neurobiological research we now have access to a large amount of information about how our brain works, how we react to traumatizing events and how what we eat impacts on how we think, feel and behave. From high-storage watches to chips embedded in our skin and clothing, we are entering a world of remarkable propinquity between person and device.

Psychological Implications of Technological Propinquity

While there are many implications, I wish to focus on just four: (1) use of the information received, (2) privacy of the information we receive or share about ourselves, (3) blurring of lines between reality and fantasy, and (4) the fundamental nature of consciousness. I will use term “technological propinquity” as short hand for the slightly longer phrase “technologies embedded in humans.”

Information Overload and Decision-Making

The first and most obvious questions is: what do we do with all of the information we are receiving about ourselves and our world. We already know more about our body and mind than ever before. We will also soon learn more about our buying habits and other propensities in our daily journey through life. Our colleague, John Krubski, is starting an institute about “Applied Decisional Sciences” – clearly the challenge of propinquity is great with regard to what we do with the information we receive and the decisions we have to make based on this information.

This new world of propinquity requires a tolerance of ambiguity along with comfort with the new technologies (most of us can no longer live comfortably as techno-peasants). There was a major field of research that flourished in psychology over several decades known as “human factors.” It concerned (among other things) the way in which people (such as pilots) gained access to and made effective use of complex information (such as altitude, speed and pitch). This human factor field is even more important today as we address the challenge of making decisions based on even more complex information as we navigate our own “airborne” journey. We are entering the world of “advanced human factors.”

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